1. Create space in your relationship
To desire your mate, leave each other for a bit, says Esther Perel in “The Secret to Desire In a Long-Term Relationship.” Our need for security, dependability, and reliability are vital to our relationships, but so are our innate desire for risk, danger, adventure, the unknown, and surprise, which can be hard to find when you’ve been with the same person for a long time. When researchers asked people when they were most drawn to their partners, about half responded, “When they’re away, when we reunite after being apart, when I see them from across the room at a party talking to another person.” So make plans to see separate friends this weekend. You’ll be more likely to appreciate – and want – each other when you return home.
2. Watch him in his element
In Perel’s talk, she also cites a study in which respondents report being most turned on by their partners when they “see them hold court and are confident.” Watching your husband from afar while he does something he loves and is good at will shift your perception, increase your desire, and remind you of those talents you may take for granted. Peek at him from the window while he’s expertly manning the grill, watch him when he fixes a broken appliance, or appreciate how good he is at coaching yours son’s baseball team. You’ll remember some of the qualities you were thrilled to discover when you first started dating, and that made you fall in love with him.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
In author Jenna McCarthy’s humorous talk, “What You Don’t Know about Marriage,” she cites a four-year study of newlyweds that found couples were happier when the woman was thinner than her husband. “No one is suggesting women have to be thin to be happy. You just have to be thinner than your partner,” jokes McCarthy. Study results that indicate men are more likely to be happier with a thinner wife aren’t all that surprising – thanks, societal norms – but researchers also discovered that those women with BMIs lower than their husbands were more satisfied over time. Don’t shoot the messenger on this one. We’re not loving the pressure that this study puts on us, either.
4. Let him tackle the dishes, even if he’s not good at it
Another study, also cited by McCarthy, found that the more willing a husband is to do housework, the more attractive his wife will find him. “Because we needed a study to tell us that,” she quips. “The more attractive he is, the more sex they have. The more sex they have, the nicer he is to her. The nicer he is to her, the less she nags him about chores and ultimately they live happily ever after.” Simple as that, right? So let him clean up after dinner while you relax a bit and unwind. You deserve a break. Plus, you’ll be more likely to be in the mood for sex later.
Related: 50 Old-Fashioned Cheap Thrills
5. Base your movie date on an action flick
Merely watching a romantic comedy causes relationship satisfaction to plummet, says McCarthy about the research findings she discusses in her TED talk. “Apparently, the bitter realization that maybe it could happen to us, but it obviously hasn’t and it probably never will, makes our lives seem unbearably grim in comparison,” she explains. So check out the latest action or adventure flick – preferably featuring a steamy male lead. Research has shown that bloodstreams pumping with adrenaline can cause residual excitement for one’s current situation, meaning as soon as the credits roll, you’ll be rushing home for some alone time.
6. Get pregnant by suggesting he fulfill his needs
Sperm that sit around in the body for a week or more are less effective at head-banging their way into the egg, says author Mary Roach in “10 Things You Don’t Know About Orgasm.” Now-retired British sexologist Roy Levin speculates that this is perhaps why men are such frequent and enthusiastic masturbators – by pleasing themselves regularly, they promote the making of fresh sperm. “So now [he has] an evolutionary excuse,” jokes Roach. If you and your hubby are trying to have a baby, you’re probably having sex more frequently than usual. But if you don’t have time to get between the sheets this week, tell your guy you’re okay with him taking care of himself once in a while for the sake of your future family. He’ll be nominating you for “Wife of the Year.”
7. Sit next to him during an outing
“Women get intimacy from face-to-face talking, and men tend to get intimacy from side-by-side doing,” says anthropologist Helen Fisher in her talk, “The Brain in Love.” Fisher believes this is a result of millions of years of women holding babies in front of their faces and soothing them with words, while men sat on the plains with other men, trying to hit buffaloes with rocks. If you want to have a more intimate experience with your guy, plan an active date during which you can do things next to each other, like an adrenaline-pumping visit to your local amusement park. Hint: Researchers have found that roller coasters can help increase arousal.
8. Ask your partner what he needs
In her talk suggesting that “We All Say Thank You,” Dr. Laura Trice wonders, “Why don’t we ask for the things we need?” She speaks about a man who has been married for 25 years, and longs to hear his wife say, “thank you for being the breadwinner so I can stay home with the kids.” However, he won’t prompt her because he may be afraid that if he does, he’ll receive a wallop of critical data instead, which could expose an insecurity. But today, ask your husband what he requires, and help meet those needs. Thank him more often for the small things he does – even if it’s picking up milk or getting the kids to school on time. After you feel more comfortable with that, take on Dr. Trice’s challenge: Be honest about the praise you need to hear, and ask him for it from time to time.