One of the clearest things to emerge from research on happiness is that we are social creatures. The quality of our relationships goes hand-in-hand with our wellbeing. That said, here are a few creative and data-driven ideas to improve your love life:
1. What's new? Charge yourself with detecting one way in which your partner is different each day. It will help you appreciate them more and remind you of what attracted you to them in the first place.
2. Celebrate. Studies show that how we respond to one another's good news significantly predicts the quality of the relationship. Be actively interested and engaged the next time a loved one shares important news (instead of looking at your iPhone or engaging in one-upmanship).
3. Go for a walk. Walking hand-in-hand and side-by-side is a physical way to be in sync and attuned with your partner. Barbara Frederickson describes this as "positivity resonance" and researches how these micro-moments connect us to one another.
4. Do something new together. In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests doing novel and exciting things together (skydiving, ballroom dancing, etc.). Couples who engage in exciting activities report more satisfaction with their relationships than those who engage in pleasant activities like going to a movie or cooking dinner.
5. Surprise. Unexpected moments and unpredictable pleasures fortify relationships. Disrupt your routine--go to a new brunch place on Sunday mornings, switch the side of the bed you sleep on, get a dog. As Lyubormisky writes, "we are less likely to take our marriage for granted when it continues to deliver strong emotional reactions in us."
6. Write it down. According to research, couples that wrote about a recent disagreement from the perspective of a neutral third party had greater relationship satisfaction, passion and desire over the long term. No essay is required. Writing about conflict resolution for seven minutes every four months does the trick.