Pop quiz: What do date night, a vacation to Bali, and a leisurely breakfast in bed have in common? They’re all really nice for your relationship… and they take the kind of time you just don’t have. These quickie tricks are every bit as good — maybe better. How to Strengthen Your Marriage in 5 Minutes or Less?
Hide out alone in the bathroom.
Yes, this is legit marriage advice. When you and your spouse have a debriefing list longer than a presidential candidate’s, it’s hard not to try to tackle it as soon as you walk in the door. But “creating five minutes of space helps keep you from taking the garbage of the day and just dumping it on each other,” says Rachel Sussman, a relationship therapist and couples counselor. Sit in silence anywhere you can find it, or go for a short walk. It’s like opening a window and letting air into your relationship.
Don’t worry about having sex more than once a week.
You’re welcome. Having sex once a week is the sweet spot for couples to be happiest; having more isn’t associated with being any closer, a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found. And there’s zero need for rose petals or candles. If all you’ve got is a few minutes, share your favorite erotic memory to kick-start things, says sex therapist Sari Cooper, who writes the blog Sex Esteem. “You’ll turn each other on simply by saying, ‘Remember when…?'”
Use your phone to tune into each other.
Thanks to emails, recipes on Pinterest, and texts from your sister, you may have a slightly more involved relationship with your phone than you do with your husband. We’re not here to tell you to put it away entirely (let’s be real), but you can use it to bring you two closer, says Sussman. Scroll through your vacation snaps, or call up your wedding song, hit that “play” arrow, and reminisce — or, go on, dance around the kitchen. Then go back to checking your Instagram if you still want to.
Start your day with jumping jacks.
Think of exercise as an argument-prevention regimen. “Do a quick circuit of high-intensity moves, like jumping jacks, squats, high knees, and push-ups,” says Joey Gonzalez, celebrity trainer and CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp. “You’ll feel more energized and great about yourself, and in turn, that may make you kinder to yourself — and your partner.” If you can convince your husband to do a quick routine with you, you’ll have the added benefit of kicking off the day feeling like a team.
Watch a funny YouTube video.
Laughing together is the medicine every marriage needs to stay healthy, says Gina Ogden, Ph.D., author of The Return of Desire. New research from University College London suggests that sharing a chuckle may improve intimacy, because laughing makes you more willing to share all sorts of feelings with each other. So pull up a Whine About It video or search “dogs annoying cats with their friendship.” You will not be sorry.
Remember when you first started dating and you would send your guy links to articles that made you think of him? Rekindle that idea. “Couples who share experiences feel closer, and that can truly be as simple as reading an article from the day’s paper out loud to each other,” says Sussman. It also gives you something to talk about outside the same-old job/kids/did-you-get-cat-food rotation. And that’s what makes for romance that’ll really last.