It goes without saying that relationships take work — but what kind of work, exactly?
1. They go in for a nice, long hug.
“When my husband gets home from work we hug for a good two to three minutes. It could be right when he walks in or after greeting our son and changing out of his suit. It’ll happen whether we’re upset with each other or not.” – reader Lindsay
2. They give each other space.
“My wife and I will look at each other meaningfully and nod, both knowing, ‘Okay, now’s the time.’ And she’ll go off and paint, and I’ll go off and pretend to read while I actually watch Netflix. When we return to each other, kids asleep, us both fulfilled from our respective activities, we have this feeling of calm, bliss, and focus that allows us to truly spend time together.” – blogger Elad Nehorai
3. They go out of their way for each other without keeping score.
“Love is often expressed in the small gestures of kindness. Someone going out in the rain to latch the back gate or get milk for breakfast. Someone getting up with the baby two nights in a row and feeling good about being generous.” – licensed marriage and family therapist Winifred Reilly
4. They listen.
“Men are naturally problem solvers. When we hear about an issue we are compelled to come up with a suggestion or solution. When a woman vents to you, that’s not always what she’s looking for. She wants you to simply listen and at least make an attempt to understand. She doesn’t want you to give her the answer, but the support she needs to figure it out on her own.” – relationship blogger James Michael Sama
5. They act silly together.
“We do improv bits together. We make little jokes out of anything. We have crazy conversations about ridiculous topics because the outcomes are so funny. Sharing that lightheartedness, not taking ourselves too seriously, relieving the stress of the day, just enjoying each other’s company.” – reader C.
6. But they also get serious when need be.
“We have ‘vulnerable time’ before bed. We get to confess whatever we need to for this moment and the other person is only allowed to say ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I forgive you.’ It’s freed up so much hurt and is quite humbling.” – reader Kristina
7. They make a point to check in throughout the day.
“My husband and I have pretty crazy lives. We don’t get nearly enough time in the same room together. So we text. Constantly. Funny photos of work, the kids, and yeah, lots of Bitmojis. It’s a way to be present in each other’s days even when the Bay Bridge separates us.” – marriage blogger Meg Conley
8. They remind each other that love — and staying in love — is a choice.
“Every day we tell each other the reason we are choosing our partner today. Today my husband said, ‘I choose you because you are an amazing mother to our daughter.’” – reader Lauren
9. They find ways to brighten their partner’s day.
“My husband makes me tea every morning and brings it to me while I’m putting my makeup on. Or if I’m still in bed on the weekends, he will bring it in a thermal cup and put it on my nightstand. It’s the little things.” – reader Felicia
10. They create their own daily rituals.
“My husband and I play Jeopardy most days. We keep score and all and when it doesn’t happen, a small piece is missing from the day.” – reader Brittany
11. They cuddle.
“My partner sets his alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than he needs to get up, and we cuddle for every one of those fifteen minutes. It’s a great way to connect before our days start and we have to go our separate ways.” – reader Melissa
12. They slow down together.
“My husband and I have a morning ritual of a cup of coffee and toast out on the patio. We chat and make plans for the garden, joke about what our dog Lucy is thinking and enjoying whatever weather the day brings.” – reader Donna