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6 Truths Super-Happy Couples Know

Life can feel perfect when you and your guy are stretched out on a beach. But new research has found that simply acting like you're on vacay can also be blissful and bonding.
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After you’ve been with your guy for a while, it’s natural to settle into a groove—curling up with a DVD movie, heading to your regular brunch place, grabbing weekly dinner with a favorite couple. Those little habits are comfortable, easy…and a potential threat to happiness. A recent study from the University of Winnipeg determined that boredom is the number one problem facing long-term relationships. It may seem minor compared to issues like cheating and lying, but experts say feeling restless is often what tempts people to stray or causes love to fade in the first place. 

That’s why the findings in the book Marriage Confidential, by Pamela Haag, PhD, are so intriguing. She looked into what makes couples happy or unhappy and discovered a fascinating pattern that the best duos share: They live like they’re always on vacation with each other. “Vacation is a state of mind,” Haag explains. “When we’re on it, we pay more attention to each other, and we’re forced to do new, invigorating things. The whole point is to have fun.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should hop on a plane to Bangkok whenever you feel a twinge of boredom. Rather, it’s about the ability to hone that relaxed, open-minded, excited attitude you have when you’re miles away from home and incorporate it into your regular life together. So we consulted experts for advice about how to vacationize those everyday moments.

1.INSTEAD OF... Doing dinner with your guy then meeting up with friends,
TRY... Spending the whole night with only him (and turning off your phones).

Here’s why:
When you’re on a holiday, you enjoy long stretches of time having fun with each other. Whereas in real life, you’re more likely to have brief, low-key dates with your guy (movies, a casual dinner) and save those big nights out for when you’re with a group. But occasionally, go balls to the wall without anyone else in the mix—get all dressed up, go dancing, and stay out late. Switching off your phones reinforces that you have each other’s undivided attention.

2. INSTEAD OF... Hitting the gym separately,
TRY... Learning a sport together, like wall climbing.

Here’s why:
Vacation is prime time for sampling new activities. And since breaking out of your comfort zone and physical exercise are two of the best ways to release the feel-good chemicals oxytocin and serotonin, you’ll feel ultra-connected after doing so. Ditch the treadmill once a week for something more exciting that you can do as a couple—a sport like wall climbing stresses communication skills in addition to toning your bod.

3. INSTEAD OF... Recapping work gossip when you get home at the end of the day,
TRY... Talking about an article you read.

Here’s why:
After hanging 24/7 with him on vacay, you inevitably delve into meatier topics than the usual “How was your day?” rehash. It’s those substantial convos—about where you want to be in a few years or what’s going on in the world—that let you see sides of each other you didn’t know about, drawing you closer. Amp up your conversations on a regular basis by filling in your guy on the most intriguing thing that sparked your interest that day, from cool news about relationships (ahem) to the latest politico-showbiz chismis.

4. INSTEAD OF... Having a glass of wine and making dinner with whatever’s in the fridge,
TRY...Whipping up tropical cocktails before concocting an exotic meal.

Here’s why:
Indulging in a fruity drink instantly puts you in the holiday frame of mind. Since you probably order a mai tai only when you’re in Boracay, the taste will remind you of being out of town. Another cool part of vacation is being exposed to adventurous cuisines, so cook dinner based on any Anthony Bourdain (ever seen No Reservations episodes on cable channel Discovery Travel and Living, or even perhaps on Youtube?) recipe. Go online to Google local recipes that have been featured in the show, and make something while watching his show and learning about the culture.

5. INSTEAD OF... Rushing through foreplay to get to the main event,
TRY... Taking your time leading up to sex and lounging in bed together after.

Here’s why:
The reason vacation sex is so orgasmic: You are relaxed and have nowhere you need to be. As a result, it is easier to stay in the moment and allows you to get ultra worked up before the main event. During the day-to-day, it’s tempting to skimp on the bells and whistles because you’re so busy, but just 10 extra minutes spent giving naked massages and priming with some oral will make sex super explosive. And don’t hop up immediately to get dressed; lie in each other’s arms for a little while.

6. INSTEAD OF... Heading to your go-to brunch spot,
TRY... Checking out the place all the way across town.

Here’s why:
One of the most fun things about a holiday is exploring a new location together, so
re-create that sense of discovery regularly. Scope out a neighborhood you haven’t been to before, and take more day trips, whether to a nearby town or a great hiking trail. If a friend is going away, offer to stay at her place and dog-sit—even if she lives only five minutes from you, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, watching TV on someone else’s couch, and getting coffee at a different Starbucks will make you feel like you’re escaping real life.
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