By Natalie Martin
LOVE is in the air, with Valentine’s Day upon us.
Many of us make the mistake in thinking that Valentine’s Day is the sole day of the year to be romantic when in fact being thoughtful, considerate, imaginative and sincere in our relationships should be our focus every day.
Think you need some help in evolving your romantic self?
We’ve put together 14 tips to ensure you win a place in your partner’s heart – not just on February 14th, but all year round.
Commit to date night
Set a date night once a month. It doesn't have to be expensive, just some special quality time alone with your partner.
Go to a movie or dinner, take a walk, have a glass of wine by candlelight, do whatever you like to do as a couple. But set aside that time. Most people, especially couples with kids, need to plan ahead because they already have so much jammed into their schedules.
Sure, there are times when things spontaneously fall together, but given our busy lifestyles those are usually happy accidents.
The classic advice to schedule a regular date night exists for good reason.
A 2012 survey from The National Marriage Project found that husbands and wives were respectively 3.5 and 3.6 times more likely to define their marriage as being very happy when they spent couple time like date night together.
Write a love note
Love notes and cards aren't just for Valentine's Day.
If you love your partner make sure they know it.
Give them a love note for no reason at all, just ‘because’. It can be sweet and romantic, or flirty and sexy.
Leave it taped on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator or in your partner’s bag so they find it.
It doesn't take much to help your partner feel more valued every day and sometimes small gestures can really help to keep a relationship smouldering.
"Stringing together these little things is an ongoing way to make change in your relationship," says Gail Saltz, MD, Health's contributing psychology editor.
Buy into romantic notions
Take a page out of your favourite romantic comedy because it turns out that being a hopeless romantic leads to better relationships.
Couples who believe in love at first sight, soul mates, and the idea that love never fades were more likely to report greater relationship satisfaction and commitment, according a recent study.
Get away for the weekend
One good suggestion for a better love life is to get out of the house and spend regular nights away from home.
You don't need a holiday as an excuse for a weekend together.
Even if you don't go out of town, the change of scenery at a hotel or bed-and-breakfast can give your relationship a romantic boost.
It can be hard to give into the moment when you're making love in your all-too-familiar bedroom.
Your mind wanders. Did I remember to set the alarm clock? How much will it cost to repair that water damage on the ceiling?
Not exactly conducive to an exciting love life.
Plan your future
Instead of drifting through life, sit down with your partner and plan your future. What goals do you want to achieve?
Research proves that couples who share dreams and goals have longer-lasting, more satisfying relationships.
Whether you are planning to buy a house, purchase a new car or save for a dream vacation, make a budget and a plan, then stick to it together.
If you feel like you and your partner have been out of sync lately, discuss your philosophy in life together.
You should aim to share what you want your life to be about, where you want to end up and work toward your aspirations together.
Appreciate each other
Remember how you used to go that extra mile to impress each other when you first started dating?
One of the secrets to a long, fulfilling relationship is to continue to actively appreciate your significant other.
If you’re not sure where to start, a good place is by saying thank you for the things they do for you, giving genuine compliments and praise.
When you give praise in public you've made it known to all that you think highly of your partner and your praise doubles in value.
Appreciating your partner in this way enhances their self-esteem and reassures them that they are worthy of your love.
Regular efforts to show that you appreciate your partner will do wonders for improving your relationship.
Engage in PDA
Don’t be afraid to show your love in public.
You don’t need to make out but little public displays of affection like holding hands, hugging, kissing and complimenting each other shows your partner that you are proud and happy to be together.
Hug your partner for no reason
Flirt throughout the entire day and maintain that physical touch and affection that is mutually enjoyable.
Hug and kiss for no reason.
Instead of just ‘jumping on your partner’ whenever the urge strikes you, make sure they know how beautiful and special they are to you all day, the whole time you are together.
Engage in foreplay.
Build up the sexual tension and flirt like you did when you first met each other.
Don’t allow that passion to fade.
Never go to bed angry
It may sound like an old cliché but studies show that you definitely should resolve arguments before going to bed; don’t sleep on your anger or bad feeling will harden into resentment.
A study, published by the journal Nature Communications, provides evidence to support the idea that negative emotional memories are harder to reverse after a night’s sleep.
This is because the brain reorganises the way negative memories are stored, during sleep, making these associations harder to suppress in the future.
In addition, going to bed at the same time as your partner at bedtime might be the only opportunity you're alone together all day.
And don’t forget to kiss your partner the first time you see them in the morning!
Some couples find that, the longer they're together, the briefer and more business-like their sexual encounters can become.
Sexuality expert Michael Castleman, author of Great Sex: A Man's Guide to the Secret Principles of Total-Body says that the fastest, most efficient route is definitely not what you want in the bedroom.
"The best sex emerges from whole body sensuality - leisurely, playful, creative," he says. "It has no real direction, a little of this, a little of that."
"Leisurely love-making benefits everyone. Women enjoy sex more, while men have fewer sexual problems and feel more confident about themselves in bed. Everybody wins."
Don't worry about what everyone else is doing
According to many relationship experts one of the most common questions they get is, "How often should we be doing it.
Feeling like you should be having a better love life is probably universal.
It explains the vast number of titles about sex in the self-help section of the bookstore, and the frequency of articles on the topic.
So how often is often enough? "There's no answer to that," says Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, a board-certified sex therapist and resident expert for WebMD's Sex Matters.
"Stop trying to decide how much sex you should have and decide how much you want."
Do more together. Waking up and going to bed together, eating together, talking together will all help you to get it together.
Stay fit and healthy
Work out and shop for healthy foods together.
Not only does being fit and healthy help you out in the bedroom by boosting endurance, flexibility and strength — but a sweat session also has more immediate effects.
"Endorphins from exercise give you an adrenaline rush that boosts arousal," says Terri Orbuch, PhD, a marriage researcher and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.
Activities like hiking, running, or biking that increase your heart rate are guaranteed to have a positive effect on desire.
Any kind of arousal rush can be transferred to your partner and add passion to your relationship," Orbuch says.
Don't ignore sexual problems
Sexual problems are kept secret much less now than they once were.
Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone who needs help is getting it.
People with sexual problems often shy away from sexuality because they don't want to face failure but these problems need to be tackled head on.
For those in sex-starved relationships, the bond can be badly damaged.
Touch is one of the most nurturing forces in the universe and if you don’t want your partner to touch you, you need to address this issue and do something to change things.
Some sexual problems may need medical attention, while others can be solved more easily.
But the important thing is not to muddle through with problems that are making your sex life worse.
Don't settle for a mediocre sex life.
Horny Goat Weed
Commit to date night for a happier relationship
Date night ideas
Small gestures keep the relationship smouldering time.com/3404749/10-ways-improve-your-relationship/
Buy into romantic notions realsimple.com/work-life/family/relationships/romantic-beliefs-linked-relationship-satisfaction
Never go to bed angry