We live in a busy world and between work, kids, bills and other daily stressors, many couples struggle to find time to connect.
That’s why it’s so important for couples to make the most of whatever alone time they have together ― whether it’s an hour or just 10 minutes. We asked relationship experts to tell us what the happiest couples do before bed to keep their bond strong. See what they had to say below.
1. They exchange “I love yous.”
“Despite all the hassles of the day, the quirks and annoyances you experience from one another and ominous feelings about the day ahead, make the effort to let your partner know they are loved. And rather than just heave it out with your last sigh of the night, say it like you really feel it.” ― Ryan Howes, psychologist
2. They go to bed at the same time if possible.
“Too many couples go to bed at different times, leading disconnected lives in the evening after already having spent all day apart. Happy couples, however, are intentional about coming back together at bedtime and reconnecting, if only for the few minutes of brushing teeth and getting under the covers. Going to bed together builds connection and provides opportunity for more intimate connecting.” ― Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men
3. They unplug from their phones and other devices.
“We live in a wired world, and more often than not, this takes away from the time couples could spend connecting through dialogue, affection or intimacy. What’s more is that when your partner is on their phone, you feel like they’re not in the room and are somewhere else instead. In my therapy practice, couples who become aware of this intrusiveness sometimes create general rules such as ‘no phones past 9 p.m.’ or ‘no phones in the bed’ to counter such dopamine-inducing but oxytocin-suppressing social media habits. This can really set a couple up for feeling close throughout the entire next day.” ― Kari Carroll,couples therapist
4. They prioritize getting a good night’s sleep.
“Although this isn’t very romantic, beyond the usual advice ― i.e. kiss goodnight, have sex, and say, ‘I love you’ ― getting a solid night’s sleep fosters good mental health, which in turn, makes people more emotionally available during the day. If sleep is hard to come by, get professional advice to develop good sleep habits.” ― Michele Weiner-Davis, therapist and author of Divorce Busting
5. They take a few minutes to practice gratitude.
“Gratitude has been shown to have a wonderfully positive effect on mood and mindset, so why not share that together? Whether it’s something specific you appreciate about one another or a positive experience from the day, share something you’re thankful for to end the day on a bright note.” ― Howes
6. They don’t try to settle arguments that aren’t easily resolvable.
“It may not seem logical, but happy couples don’t actually settle disagreements before going to bed. We’ve all heard the adage, ‘do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,’ but it’s actually misunderstood. Trying to address heavy subjects, especially those you disagree on, at the end of the day when you’re both tired and short on patience is not smart. Too many couples make the mistake of starting fights at this time of day when they should be building connection ― not creating division.” ― Smith
7. They set aside time to chat about the day and open up about their feelings.
“The happiest couples regularly discuss the external stressors in their life and allow their partner to vent often. This doesn’t mean going into negativity overload all evening, but it does mean setting aside 15 to 30 minutes to unwind and lean into the relationship by showing support for the other relationships and experiences in your partner’s life. In my practice, I help couples listen to their partner’s stresses without feeling the need to take them on or problem-solve. Their partner tends to be appreciative of this opportunity and just feeling understood empowers them to be ready to tackle the next day’s stresses.” ― Carroll
8. They keep the kids out of the bedroom.
“Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for the two of you. Although nightmares and illnesses might trigger children to climb into bed with you, in general, if intimacy and connection is your goal, encourage children to stay in their own rooms. Couples need privacy and boundaries to stay connected.” ― Weiner-Davis
This article originally appeared on huffingtonpost.com