Truth be told, keeping him happy in the sack isn’t the (only) key to a healthy relationship. It takes some serious communication, openness, and—shout-out to Ben Affleck—work (!) to have a happy life with another human being. Consider these 10 tips from certified sex therapist Sari Cooper your healthy relationship bible.
1. Express Yourself
“One of the foundations of a healthy relationship is being able to express your feelings to your partner and learning how to listen,” says Cooper. “Witnessing or mirroring [basically saying ‘I get you’] is a good basic form of communication.” But saying ‘I get you’ doesn’t mean ‘I agree with you.’ In other words, hear him out, but don’t just agree to keep the peace.
2. Schedule Quality Time Together
Particularly as you get further along in your relationship—moving in together, having kids, the whole shebang—you’ll have plenty of logistical conversations that need to happen. Who’s making sure the kids aren’t stranded at soccer practice, how to handle telling Momzilla that you’re going to his folks’ for the holidays, and so on. “That doesn’t give a sense of emotional bonding or intimacy that many people are craving,” says Cooper. Carve out quality time when you’re focusing on each other and nothing else.
3. Fight for a (Specific) Cause
“There’s a term in couples counseling we use called ‘kitchen sinking,’” says Cooper. You probably already guessed what it means: That mountain of complaints that piles up like the dishes in your skank-ass sink—starting with his griping about you stealing the TV remote whenever he turns on the sports channel and then snowballs into an argument about house chores, date nights and the fact that you never wear the awful jewelry he bought you for V-Day. Don’t do it. Arguing about a bunch of issues all at once is too overwhelming to tackle. Stick to one at a time.
4. Introduce New Experiences
Now you don’t have to sign up for the next season of Survivor, but you do want to continuously introduce novel experiences into your relationship. Whether that’s adding a new sex toy into your routine, traveling to Tahiti like you’ve always dreamed of, or taking a French class together, you want grow together—and challenge each other—with new shared experiences.
For more tips on how to keep your relationship healthy, head over to Cosmopolitan.