The easiest way to strengthen your relationship before bed? Simply talk to your partner. According to a new study that was presented at the 2017 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention, couples who share good news with each other before they go to sleep found an increase in intimacy and a deepening of their relationship bond. As an added bonus, positively communicating with your partner can even help you sleep better at night.
Social psychologist Sarah Arpin, from Gonzaga University and colleagues studied the relationships of 162 post-9/11 military couples in Oregon as part of a larger research project on veterans. For this portion of their research, married and cohabiting couples were asked to complete daily online surveys for 32 days, answering questions about the best things that happened to them each day, whether or not they shared that information with their partner, and how that information was received. Individuals were also asked to rate their levels of loneliness, intimacy with their partner, and how well they slept.
They found that when people shared good news with their partner and received positive feedback, they were able to fall asleep faster and sleep better than on days when they felt like their partners didn't really care. Individuals also felt less lonely and much closer to their partners when they felt like their partners were being responsive. That of course, led to a better night's rest.
"Talking to your partner each night is such an important part of building intimacy, promoting feelings of safety, mutual respect, and feeing understood and 'heard' by your partner," licensed psychologist Marni Amsellem, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "It is hard for intimacy to be genuine and to evolve if both partners are not sharing parts of themselves with their partners, more often than not."
Amsellem says talking every night doesn't have to include lengthy, deep dialogues. "The message should be communicated that if [they] want to talk, you are there for them," Amsellem says. "Alternately, if there is something that you would like to share and want your partner to know, share."
So here are some things you can do before bed to increase intimacy and strengthen your bond with your partner:
While talking is probably the best thing you can do, physical contact also promotes intimacy. "Often the combination of physical contact and talking (sharing a thought or experience of your own with your partner) is greater than each of those actions in isolation," Ansellem says.
"Physically touching, cuddling, massaging shoulders or feet, are also a good way to connect as oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released," marriage coach and host of weekly radio show, “Happily Ever After is Just the Beginning,” Lesli Doares, tells Bustle. "Anything that serves as a shared experience will increase connection and intimacy."
2Get Rid Of The Tech
"Habits can develop relatively quickly and unless the activity is something that is shared, regular use of technology in bed does not promote intimacy," Ansellem says.
So make it a point to put away all the devices if you're looking to share the end of the day together.
3Say Thank You
In a 2015 study by Allen Barton, a research scientist at the University of Georgia's Center for Family Research, it was found that married couples who felt appreciated reported to having greater marital satisfaction and commitment. They also had less thoughts about divorce. That just goes to show you how important saying two little words like, "Thank You," really is.
4Give Your Partner A Compliment
"Before going to bed we recommend always giving each other a compliment and a kiss," Emily Lyons, CEO of Lyons Elite Matchmaking and Dating Consultancy firm tells Bustle. "End the day happy and loved, no matter what took place earlier. They say never go to bed angry, and there is scientific proof that supports that."
According to Lyons, sleep is vital for consolidating, processing, and storing memories. "Putting that last happy, good-feeling memory into your mind will strengthen your bond more than you know," she says.
5Wish Your Partner A Positive "Goodnight"
Josh Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and host of the relationship show The Web suggests spending at least five to 10 minutes having "positive" conversation with your partner. That means nothing controversial or anything that could possibly lead to conflict. However, sometimes the day can wear on you and having a positive conversation may be the furthest thing on your mind.
"Be sure and have a positive tone and wish your partner, 'Goodnight,'" Klapow says. "It sounds cheesy but simply saying goodnight with feeling or telling them you love them sends both of you off to sleep with a positive emotion to your relationship. The words, the feeling and the tone, if authentic, will remind both of you that you are together."
6Go To Bed With A Kiss
"This is not about having sex or making moves towards that," Klapow says. "It is about physically showing your partner your love." According to him, you don't necessarily have to kiss or even hug every night. Simply patting them or giving a gentle touch can show them that you care.
Couples can even try doing a 30-second hug or a 15-second kiss, Julienne Derichs, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor tells Bustle. Again, you don't even have to make it about sex. "Touch and affection that is just for the sake of touch and affection can strengthen the emotional bond a couple feels," Derichs says. "A lot of couples fall into the pattern where the only time they show each other physical affection is when they want sex. Don't fall into that trap."
7Play A Game
Derichs suggests playing an intimacy building game like "Five Things." Whenever you or your partner calls out "Five things," you both go through five things within a certain topic. For instance, five things you're looking forward to tomorrow, things you're happy about in life, things you love about your partner, things you want to eat for breakfast, etc. "Being playful together can really strengthen your relationship," Derichs says.
We all know just how important communication is to a relationship. But as Whitney Linscott, Founder and CEO of Bracket Dating tells Bustle, "It does not mean, that you must sit across a table from each other and talk about your day for 30 minutes," she says. "Communication can take many different forms and they all play valuable roles. As long as you are actively engaging with your partner every night, just as diligently as you brush your teeth, your relationship will flourish."
Overall, it's all about the experiences you share together. Talking with your partner about the good things that happened in your day can make them feel like they were a part of it. If they're responsive and offer up supportive feedback, you'll feel like you shared in those moments together. So once again, open, positive communication is the key to intimacy and relationship success.