Take these easy steps to ensure the strength of your relationship.
fall engagement photo

You spend quite a lot of time with your significant other, but how much of that time is actually spent doing things together? When you're both busy, it can be hard to make room for quality time, which can be something as simple as sharing a meal or as extravagant as a week-long vacation. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what you're doing, so long as the time you're spending in each other's company is really focused on being together.

Carving out space for togetherness is important: This creates a sense of teamwork, which serves as the foundation of your relationship, says Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist. "Teamwork is an essential ingredient for the sustainability of long-term relationships, allowing partners to cultivate shared relationship goals and create a meaningful, shared life," says Skyler.

Looking for more ways to spend meaningful time with your partner? Learn the 10 best ways to ensure you're doing just that, according to a few experts.

christonya orlando rehearsal dinner, couple walking together
Credit: Lauren Fair Photography

Have Date Night

Even if you've been together for years—or even decades—it's important to never stop "dating," or having a special day or night for just the two of you, says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., a psychologist, the director of My Dating & Relationship School, and the author of Dating from the Inside Out. "There is a lot of research showing it improves relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction and lowers divorce," she says. "Plus it's a great way to have fun, rediscover each other, and get away from everyday responsibilities."

Go to Bed Together at the Same Time

Again, it's not always possible to go to bed at the same time, but it's important to make the effort as often as possible. "One partner may stay up longer reading; however, the act of getting into bed together symbolizes how special and unique their union is," says Skyler. "Plus, getting into bed together increases the possibility of having sex, or at least cuddling before dozing off."

Cuddle Daily

If you can't seem to fit in time to cuddle just before bed, try to sneak it in during other times of the day—even if it's just a few minutes. "The shared skin time releases oxytocin which helps bond two people," says Skyler. "Cuddling also fosters affectionate intimacy so that couples have ways to connect skin-to-skin."

engagement photo idea of couple on a bike in an orchard
Credit: Jennifer Hodder Photography

Exercise Together

Whether one of you likes to run or the other enjoys biking, prioritize physical fitness together, suggests Doug Polster, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and the COO and head of clinical staff for Thriving Center of Psychology. "Take turns choosing the activity and get moving," he says. "Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and when you do it together, it not only helps you feel better but can serve as another way to connect with your partner."

Eat Meals Together

Depending on your work schedules, it's likely not realistic to have every meal together, but whenever you can, experts suggest making an effort to sit down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your partner. "Breaking bread at the end of the day allows for couples to sink into the sacred container of their relationship and reconnect after a long day away from one another," says Skyler. "Sharing a meal means sharing the pleasure of food, and hopefully meaningful conversation for emotional connection."

Schedule Check-Ins

While date nights are fun, they don't always serve as the best time to talk about challenges, says Polster. "Make sure to schedule a time, perhaps once a month, when both of you agree to sit down, open up, and discuss things such as budgets, kids, or other big decisions," he says. "When it is planned ahead, you're more likely to arrive at the conversation open-mindedly and ready to connect—and move forward together."

Get Away Together

Whether it's one night, over the weekend, or a week-long vacation, getting away together—just the two of you—is a great way to recharge your relationship and create positive feelings and memories, explains Mary Ann Mercer, Psy.D., a psychologist and the co-founder of Positive Life Answers. "It snaps you out of your daily routine and gives your relationship the refresh it could use," she says.

bride and groom kissing by fountain

Kiss Your Partner

Aside from cuddling, Polster recommends kissing often to strengthen your bond. "For anyone who has been in a long-term relationship, you know intimacy can wax and wane," he says. "Take the time to kiss your partner, at least first thing in the morning and right before bed, to remind them of how much you care."

Spend Holidays Together

Holidays are special for couples—experiencing them together affirms the fact that you are family. "It's an important habit to make time from work and other obligations and to plan family or couple rituals to mark those special occasions together," says Sherman. "This creates times of shared joy and gives you things to look forward to together."

Celebrate the Little Things

You don't have to wait for something big to happen to celebrate your relationship and marriage. Mark your calendar and celebrate your first date, the date you got engaged, and your wedding, says Mercer; everyday moments, like a promotion or the achievement of a personal goal, should be highlighted, too.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
January 16, 2021
Happy couples also pray together in faith for without good solid faith in the Heavenly Father they may not survive difficult times. Also couples who give each space allows them to appreciate each other more
Martha Stewart Member
October 7, 2020
Articles like these always say the same things. Where are the real things? 1. Reminds you to call your mom on her birthday so you don't get [filtered]. Bonus points for sending flowers 2. Know when to say [filtered] it, let's order in dinner 3. Walking away when the other needs space without taking offense. 4. Always emembering the courtesy flush 5. Tell each other if you look ridiculous, of course delicately and with discretion if in public. If they can't be honest with you, who the hell can be? What would you add?