Every day a friend and her husband message each other with the letters HITYTHMILO and ICNLYM. Spy code? No. A poster couple for romance in marriage, they are saying, "Have I Told You Today How Much I Love You?" and "I Could Not Love You More." Awww!
Even happily married couples can benefit from some love-connection tips. A few:
Compliment your partner. Guys can tell their wives they "look good, smell good, and make the best pot roast," says Beverly Hills, Calif., psychotherapist Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent. Women can praise their husbands, too. (Me? I tell my silver-haired husband that he is cuter than George Clooney. True! And I laugh - too loud, according to my kids - at his jokes.)
Hold hands. "From birth, the experience of touch is one of the primary ways attachment occurs," says Walfish. Why not snuggle, too - or give each other a shoulder or back massage. Not confident of your abilities? Read George Downing's The Massage Book, or sign up for a class.
Keep your wallet closed. "No money is required to feel close and connected," says Walfish. "Pack a picnic and go to the park and enjoy nature."
Answer a Newlywed Game-like questionnaire. Nashua, N.H., psychologist Carl Hindy asks couples to answer and then seal up many questions, including "What are 10 things your partner does that please you and show you he or she loves you?"). "Sometimes people have trouble thinking of 10 things to fill the 10 blanks," he says. "More commonly I think they come to take these things for granted. They don't thank each other." When they think about it, they answer, "I love how he plugs in the coffee pot in the morning," or "He calls me on the way home to see if there's anything he can pick up."
Pen a worth-saving why-you-love-each-other list. It can include a mix of the silly and the serious. For example, you can say, "I love the way you never miss any of our kids' school or sports activities." And you can also say, "Thank goodness we both like garlic!" Try doing a "55 reasons why I love you" special edition for a 55<sup>th</sup> birthday.
Make regular time for each other. One couple told Hindy, "Backgammon saved our marriage. Now we're doing something regularly together. (My husband and I are partial to Scrabble.) Sit face to face, play a board game, or talk, "like the old-fashioned days," says Hindy. "After dinner, you're going to do a walk together every night. That's romantic in a simple way."
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