Simple, science-backed ways to make your relationship even better.
Celebrate the good times. How couples cope with good news is just as important as how they cope with hard times, conflict, and unhappiness, research indicates. How do you react to the achievements of the person you love? Do you simply offer a smile of support? Or do you pop the Champagne cork, order takeout, and give a high five?

Get in tune about sex. In one study from the University of Hawaii, researchers asked participants how they wanted their partners to behave in the bedroom. Both men and women wanted their partners to be more direct—but they also admitted that they were too self-conscious to describe their own needs and desires. The solution: Write down five things you'd like your spouse to say or do during sex. Try not to focus on specific acts or positions—the goal is to determine general changes that would give you more pleasure. Then compare your answers with those of your spouse.

Turn criticisms into complaints. Marriage studies show that one of the main differences between a good fight and a bad fight is whether it begins with a complaint or a criticism. For example, "I wish we had sex more often" (complaint) versus "You never want to have sex. What's happened to you?" (criticism). The difference between a complaint and a criticism can be subtle, but the key is to focus on the effect of the upsetting behavior rather than launch into an attack on the person.

NEXT: The science behind a good marriage

Adapted from For Better, by Tara Parker-Pope. Published by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright © 2010 Tara Parker-Pope.


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