Set the alarm five minutes early and have a cuddle. 'Although most people make time for cuddling at the end of the day, it's much more rewarding first thing because the physical contact will keep you feeling close to each other all day,' says Paula Hall, a relationships psychotherapist with Relate. And getting close sets you up for a calmer working day, too. A study at the University Of North Carolina found that couples who received hugs from their partners not only had higher levels of oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and care, they also had a much lower heart rate and blood pressure level than those who didn't make physical contact with a loved one.
When couples move in together, women tend to eat more unhealthy foods and gain weight, while men's diets tend to become healthier! A study by Newcastle University found that the reason for the change in dietary habits is that both partners try to please each other at the start of a cohabiting relationship by adjusting their routine to suit their partner and eating food that he or she likes. 'Don't put up with your boyfriend's requests for takeaways and fat-laden meals. Instead, boost your health and his by planning and cooking healthy meals together as a fun activity,' says nutritionist Ian Marber.
Just like your diet, your fitness often suffers in a relationship, as spending time together takes precedence over your workouts. 'If you're struggling to find the time to see your partner and fit in your usual exercise regime, combine the two by enjoying joint activities, such as walking and cycling, or take up a sport together, such as surfing or skiing,' says Andy Birch, from Virgin Active.
Sex and love may seem inextricably linked, but the emotions are actually quite separate, according to a recent study by Stony Brook University, NY. Researchers monitored the brains of couples who had fallen in love and found that feelings of love affected the right side of the brain, while attraction mostly registered on the left. As activity on the right side is far more intense, researchers concluded that love is a more powerful emotion than desire. So it's fine to get your engines revving on the left side with a daydream about your man's best friend, as long as that's where it stays!
Research suggests that you need five positive experiences to erase the memory of one negative experience. So give five kind words for each critical comment you make to your partner and five cuddles after each cold shoulder.
Couples who kiss regularly but don't have sex are more likely to have successful relationships than couples who have sex regularly but don't kiss, according to Relate, so make time for smooching, even if you don't want to have full sex.
The number-one cause of couple conflict is money. If you find it hard to talk about money with your partner, here's some advice from financial expert Jasmine Birtles (www.moneymagpie.com).
● Not sure where to start? Begin a conversation about your parents' attitude to money. People often take the lead from their parents when it comes to finance, so if they were thrifty, chances are you or your partner will be, too. It's a good way to get to the bottom of both your attitudes to money.
● Keep separate accounts, but have a joint one, too. Agree to put a percentage of your earnings into the joint account to pay for things such as bills and supermarket shopping.
● With overspending, it's useful to write down the figures. Seeing the numbers in black and white makes the situation a lot more real. In debt? You can get free advice from: Citizen's Advice Bureau; Consumer Credit Counselling Service; National Debt Line.
96% of women feel sexier when they are on holiday, so short breaks away are great for enlivening relationships.
Differences in work status can cause a real problem in relationships, with neither party enjoying the increasingly common reversal in male and female provider and homemaker roles. Researchers at the University Of Virginia questioned 5,000 women and found they were happiest when their husbands earned more than them. About 40% of women in the UK out-earn their spouse. So what should you do if you earn more than your partner? Relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam advises being his biggest cheerleader and telling him you admire what he's doing, whether he's working or looking after the kids. 'You have to believe that what your partner brings to the relationship is just as valuable as your contribution,' she says.
The average time couples spend having sex is just 7.3 minutes, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The research found that both men and women would prefer to spend longer on foreplay.
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