When you first met and got hitched, you couldn't stop gushing about married life and how wondrous it was going to be. In fact, the situation was so serious that your best friend, your sister, and even your mother were getting a little tired of hearing the details.
But then, after the wedding hoopla faded, you probably found that life kicked in at a wicked pace, your priorities got reshuffled, and you just didn't have time to sit back and reflect on your marital bliss. If you can relate, know this: "It's not the traditional stuff -- the big dinner out once a year, or even the regular Saturday-night dates -- that pulls you together and bonds you," says Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. "It's little bits of time stolen together and small, frequent gestures that remind you of what you have in common and your commitment to each other." Of course, no one's saying you should bag the annual dinner. But try these ideas from experts and couples, and you'll find that opportunities to connect and feel really good about your marriage are lurking everywhere, every day of the year.
Tell him you love him (and more)
1. Tell him you love him
Spill your most loving thoughts. "We tend to get caught up in complaining -- he doesn't say this or do that -- but it's so important to affirm out loud what a great guy he is, and why you fell in love with him, and love him so much today," says Gloria Richfield, Ph.D. Next time he cracks you up, pipe up about how incredible it is to be married to a guy with such a terrific sense of humor; or first thing in the morning, before your feet touch the floor, let him hear that whatever the workday holds can't faze you, since you know you'll see him that night.
2. Talk about the future
All new couples love to daydream about the future -- the places you'll go, the parties you'll throw, the house you'll renovate -- but that habit tends to fall by the wayside when you're in a long-standing union. To get that sense of anticipation going again, and make sure the coming years have the highlights you're hoping for, visualize the future together. Plan a romantic vacation, a wilderness adventure or something closer to home, like putting a Jacuzzi in your bathroom -- and make it happen.
3. Give "just-because" gifts
Instead of going for big-ticket items on "real holidays," a writer and mom of three in California and her husband, Bill, give gifts when the appropriate occasion strikes, calendar be damned. "When I noticed that I was bored silly with seeing him in the same suit everyday, I took him shopping for a new one, and when he saw that a writer's conference was coming to a college near us, he signed me up to help my journalism career along," she says. "Those kinds of gifts make us feel connected, like we're looking out for each other all year long."