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I Put "10 Ways to Perk Up Your Relationship" to the Test

I barely have time to shave my legs, let alone think of fun and creative ways to freshen up my marriage.

Try as I might to squeeze in a sweet text or a loving Post-It to my husband, sometimes I can’t even manage to do that much. Thirteen years of marriage and a couple of kids have made it pretty damn easy sit back and trust that my husband knows how much I love him. But was that enough? Probably not.

Since I’m not a love doctor, I took to the internet for advice on how to give my slightly saggy marriage a little nip and tuck. So when I came across Psychology Today‘s 10 Ways to Perk Up Your Relationship, I was up for the challenge. Read on to discover the 10 ways I attempted to perk up my marriage, along with my husband’s reaction to the perking – all after the jump!


  • Be grateful 1 of 10
    Be grateful
    According to psychologist Sarah Algoe, gratitude has the ability to boost positive emotion into relationships. Gratitude was certainly worth a try. After a particularly trying day, my husband came home late from work. Under normal circumstances I'd be in a wicked bad mood for my stint as a single mother, only this time I simply thanked him for working so hard to provide for our family.

    His reaction: "Wow Babe, thanks. That means a lot. I'll do anything to make sure you guys are taken care of."

    My reaction: Wow, I picked a good egg. Not to mention, that whole "single mother" resentment that had been building? Gone.

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Poke fun at each other 2 of 10
    Poke fun at each other
    Psychologist Dacher Keltner says, "Playfulness is one of the first casualties of a busy life." Score one for my marriage, if there was one thing we never stopped perking in our relationship, it was playfulness. In the spirit of this perky experiment I chose to poke fun at my husband's accent.

    His reaction: "Oh yeah? Kids, be quiet! Mommy needs to publish this blog post!" in that high-pitched sing-songy way he likes to imitate my voice.

    My reaction: Not funny. Perk bust. Moving right along...

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Capitalize on good news 3 of 10
    Capitalize on good news
    Shelley Gable, researcher at UC Santa Barbara suggests how couples behave in good times may be even more important than how they behave when the going gets rough. Interesting. Well, let's see, my husband recently managed to impress his company's biggest customer. Even though I was a week late on the celebrating, I poured cheap red wine into our finest glasses and proposed a toast to husband.

    His reaction: "This wine sucks."

    My reaction: "It was the thought that counted."

    His do-over reaction: "Sorry, it was sweet. Next time let's toast with beer."

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Use your illusions 4 of 10
    Use your illusions
    Did you know that the most satisfied couples are those who rate their partner higher than they rate themselves? It's true, according to psychologist Sandra Murray. Bottom line: Focus on the good in your partner and the qualities you like most. I concluded my husband was hard working, honest, kind, and hilarious - and then I told him.

    His reaction: A big huge hug.

    My reaction: Feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Find your ideal self – in your partner 5 of 10
    Find your ideal self - in your partner
    Psychologist Caryl Rusbult says couples who resemble each other's ideal selves are happier. The article suggested listing my personal goals along with the qualities I like most about my partner because there's supposed to be a bunch of overlap. Whattaya know, my personal goals of working hard, putting family first, and to never stop learning indeed mirror the qualities I admire most in my husband.

    His reaction: "Told ya I was awesome."

    My reaction: Eye roll.

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Notice what’s new about your partner 6 of 10
    Notice what's new about your partner
    Psychologist Ellen Langer suggests once we feel like we know our partner, we continue to think of them in a static fashion. Langer says, "Once we think we know another person so well that we don't pay attention to them anymore, the person stops being seen." Whoa, heavy. The article suggested looking for five things that are different about your mate since you last looked, either physical or spiritual. This exercise was by far the hardest for me.

    I noticed in no particular order:
    1) He's got a wicked farmer's tan
    2) He's a whole lot calmer than he used to be
    3) He remembered to bring down the laundry
    4) He's in the best shape of his life
    5) He needs new jeans

    Note: I chose not to gauge his reaction on this exercise for fear of what he'd notice about me.

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Put it in writing 7 of 10
    Put it in writing
    According to a University of Texas study, people who take the time to write about their relationships felt overall more positive about their relationships. Well, I've long thought I was better in writing than in real life so I sat down, pen in hand and wrote a short but sweet love note to my husband.

    His reaction: "Thanks, that was sweet."

    My reaction: "I meant every word."

    His reaction: "Wanna make-out?"

    My reaction: [Heavy sigh]

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Provide support in secret 8 of 10
    Provide support in secret
    Overt gestures of support can leave the receiving partner feeling obligated according to psychologist Niall Bloger. The article suggested offering "invisible" support in the way of hidden acts of kindness to make your partner's life easier. Brace yourself for the romance, I chose the tedious task of finding mates for all his missing socks.

    His reaction: "Yessss! I have socks!"

    My reaction: "Wow, that's sad."

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Get back in touch 9 of 10
    Get back in touch
    Touch isn't always about sex. Researches from BYU and the University of Utah found that partners who gave each other "listening touches" by gently touching each other's hands, necks, and shoulders proved all kinds of good for alleviating stress levels and increasing bonding. As a non-touchy/feely sort of gal, this one was going to be a challenge. I parked next to my husband and he droned on and on about some catastrophic missed shipping schedule and as I listened I placed my hand quite deliberately on his hand and began to pet him (told you I wasn't good at this).

    His reaction: "Are you petting me?"

    My reaction: "No, I'm giving you a 'listening touch'".

    His reaction: "Does this lead to sex?"

    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Look after yourself 10 of 10
    Look after yourself
    Life coach Susan Biali says, "By taking care of what you need in your own life, you bring a more positive attitude back into the relationship." Liking where Biali was going with this, I was excited to give it a try. What I really needed to do for myself more than anything was go bra shopping. I left hubs with the kids to get my well-supported boob on. What surprised me most was how good it felt to give myself the gift of personal time. My soul needed it. My boobs needed it. And I arrived home much happier and calmer than when I left.

    His reaction: "You look happy."

    My reaction: "I feel happy."

    His reaction: "You happy makes me happy."

    My reaction: Swoon.

    Image credit: Shutterstock

The week I spent focused on my husband left me with the overwhelming desire to keep going. Between you and me, that was the last thing I expected to happen. As an unexpected bonus my husband mysteriously began tackling his older than dirt Honey-Do list. Coincidence? I think not.

How do you perk up your relationship?

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