Your one-month plan to a closer, more loving relationship
Send him lexts (love texts)
When we focus on something, we tend to see it show up more often. So try sending him a text every day this month that acknowledges something you appreciate about him, such as "I love that you get me peanut M&Ms when I have PMS."
"My husband did a text appreciation month for me after he forgot to get me a Valentine's Day card one year, and I was surprised that he found something new to write every single day — it made me feel so cherished," says Orna Walters, who co-founded Creating Love on Purpose, a relationship coaching service, with her husband, Matthew.
Video: Relationship milestones
Use this excuse to hang those old pics
Research confirms that experiences rather than things increase your happiness levels, and recounting shared moments in your relationship can also boost marital satisfaction.
Gather pictures of your favorite times together — such as the camping trip you took sans kids or his surprise 35th birthday party — and place your new collection somewhere he will see it as a happy reminder.
Then, hit up Home Goods or Michael's for some cute new frames.
Bing: Create fun memories
Look on the bright side
It's no secret that positive people are more fun to be around, and the same applies to your relationship. In a brand-new analysis of the most important strategies for overall relationship satisfaction, positivity landed at the top of the list.
"Our research shows that there are concrete, small moves you can do in your daily life to make your partner like being around you more, and feel more committed to the relationship," says Brian G. Ogolsky, Ph.D., study co-author and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"In terms of relationships, positivity really means those little fun, romantic gestures." In other words, zip the mother-in-law talk tonight at dinner.
Video: Biggest couple turn-ons
Open up more
For a stronger bond, you have to create space for openness in your relationship.
"We give as much as we get in terms of disclosure. The more open you are, the more likely your partner is to open up," says Dr. Ogolsky.
"It leads to deeper conversations and connection." So carve out time to greet him with a glass of wine after work today and see where the conversation takes you.
Bing: How to be communicative
Be a team player
It might not be enough to make you love laundry, but doing chores around the house with your husband is actually a huge relationship booster. Sometimes merely spending time with him as he's tinkering around — not grand gestures — are what really makes him feel more close to you. And the research proves it. Taking part in shared tasks was another top-five relationship booster.
"It doesn't mean that you have to vacuum the floor together, but simultaneously doing the chores that keep your household functioning, such as washing the dishes while he fixes the stove, reminds you both that you are working together as a team," says Dr. Ogolsky.
Pen a relationship bucket list
Just like you sometimes need assurances at work or from your friends — think: "I'm grateful to have a best friend like you" — your relationship also needs frequent positive reinforcement.
Your guy loves hearing things like, "I feel like the luckiest girl in the world having you as my husband."
Not surprisingly, this relationship strategy also made the top-five list. Think of those little things you do and say that remind your husband that you're not going anywhere as relationship insurance.
"You're effectively boosting commitment by creating a shared future with your partner," says Dr. Ogolsky.
Dreaming together strengthens your bond, so try creating a list of your shared dreams, such as owning a summer home or traveling to Asia one day.
Schedule a double date night
A shared social network — like having mutual couple friends — is the fifth tried-and-true strategy that makes for a better marriage, according to the research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Spending time with mutual friends strengthens couples' bonds because it gives you the chance to present your relationship to other people, share your inside jokes, and lets you see your partner in a different light when socializing," says Dr. Ogolsky.
You'll quickly remember your husband's talent for spot-on puns, or how good a host he is.
Don't try to change him
Maybe you wish he folded his socks, or that he would chat it up with your friends without prompting. But, his inability to notice hair in the sink may stem from the laid-back personality that drew you to him in the first place.
"Happy couples know their partner's differences, and have pretty much stopped trying to change the other person," says Darren Wilk, a certified Gottman Couples Therapist with a private practice in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"Rather than trying to fight their partner's personality style, they instead focus on each other's strengths."
To better understand how to tap into both of your best qualities, take this quick relationship personality quiz.
Recognize his calls for attention
Happy couples are mindful of those little moves their partners make when seeking attention. In studying 120 newlyweds in Gottman's Love Lab, his team discovered that couples who stayed married six years later were paying attention to these bids for connection 86 percent of the time, compared to only 33 percent of the time for those who later divorced.
So look out for the small stuff, and respond to his need to connect. Like if he complains that his back is hurting, it might be his way of hinting that he'd like you to take care of him, so stop and give him a mini-massage.
Dress like a single girl - just for fun
If sweatpants have become your go-to at-home attire, try dressing up for him tonight. It doesn't matter how you do it — or how '50s housewife you feel. Paying attention to your appearance or wearing something special is an easy-to-get way to show him that he matters.
"Men are visually tuned in," says Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., host of Investigation "Discovery's Happily Never After" and author of "The 30-Day Love Detox".
"Putting in the extra effort to look good makes him feel like you're still trying for him and are fully invested in the relationship."