Routines get a bad rep when it comes to romance. (Cue images of eating dinner in front of the TV and passing out before you can even think about getting frisky.) But that’s not necessarily the case. Plenty of happy couples will tell you that routine isn’t the enemy—in fact, establishing a nightly habit can help strengthen your bond and make you even happier. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the secret to staying out of a relationship rut might actually be to establish a daily routine.
To dig a little deeper, we asked real women about the evening habits that help keep their relationships going strong. Their tried-and-true nightly activities are just a few examples of one or two things you can do to strengthen your own relationship. The benefits may surprise you.
1. TREAT EACH OTHER.
“Almost every night, we have ice cream or frozen yogurt treats. It’s a little thing to see who volunteers to go downstairs and to the back of our big old house to the freezer to get them each night. Partway through whatever we’re watching that evening, one of us will ask, ‘Did you say something about popsicles?’ and the other will make the trek downstairs to the freezer where we keep a stock of frozen treats, and grab a surprise for the other. We settle in on the couch with our popsicles and our pups and just enjoy the downtime together. After 20 years of marriage, it’s as much about the everyday tiny things as it is the grand gestures—if not more so!” —Dana, M., married 20 years
2. TAKE A STROLL.
“We normally spend all our evenings together. We both work at home and a 45-minute walk through the neighborhood is a good end to the work day and start to the evening.” —Linda M., married 16 years
3. GET IT ON.
“If we’ve gone more than a week without having sex, we both make a point to make time for that. I honestly believe that if you go too long without sex (like more than two to three weeks unless you physically can’t, due to illness or being apart) it can severely damage the connection in a relationship. Even when I couldn’t have vaginal intercourse after giving birth, I think we probably waited only two to three weeks and then, let’s just say, we got creative with non-vaginal sex…” —Kaitlin S., married six years.
4. SPEND QUALITY TIME IN THE KITCHEN.
“Every night we cook dinner together—or at least keep one another company while the other cooks. When one of us gets home, the other always fixes the other a drink (usually not alcoholic, could just be sparkling water with lemon!) and for some reason that always feels like a nice way to start the evening.” —Ashley W., married two years
5. TURN TV TIME INTO TOGETHER TIME.
“Our weekday evening habits are to watch the evening news with a plate of olives and other noshes then have dinner. Afterward, we watch TV. I love our binges! It still feels like a real treat to sit and watch and snuggle.” —Lisa D., married six years