Small Love Changes - Big Results

Even the best relationships occasionally hit a rut in the road to happily-ever-after - "I wasn't looking at her, honey, I swear!" But happy couples know the secrets to navigating the best route to romance nirvana.

If you're lost on the path to relationship bliss, take heart. We mapped out the shortcuts.

Little Love Change #1: Watch What You Say - and How You Say It

Critical language hits harder - and has a more lasting impact - than do compliments. According to a University of Washington study, those tiny acts of thoughtfulness (even just smiling and listening attentively) predict a relationship's long-term success. So curb the harsh comments and make sure you're showing - and telling - thanks for all you appreciate.

Little Love Change #2: Just Do It

Not in the mood? Do it anyway. Many times arousal comes before desire. Even if you don't think you're interested, you'll often enjoy yourself if you just get started. You'll make your partner happy and - bonus! - the more sex you have, the more sex you'll want.

Little Love Change #3: Pay Back

We all want to feel valued and cared for in our relationships. But for that to happen we have to be able to recognize the appreciation. To you, changing the car's oil or doing the laundry says "I care about you," but it only works if he or she notices. Get to know what your partner really wants - Does she need you to say it? Does he want you to show it via that one hot move you do in the sack? - and pay your sweetie back with the right currency.

Little Love Change #4: Play

While getting serious is, well, serious business, an expanding body of research shows that playful couples have tighter unions. From your first date, really getting each other's sense of humor helped you forge a closer connection. Later on, that laughter will diffuse tension and keep your problems in perspective. Besides, if you're not having fun, what's the point?

Little Love Change #5: Fight Fair

It's not whether or not you fight - because you will - it's how you do it. Do either of you resort to down-and-dirty fighting tactics (getting defensive, name-calling, etc.)? Do you catch yourself rolling your eyes at him or smirking at something she said? When you're super-close it's easy to know exactly what buttons to push, but condescending to each other shows a basic lack of respect that will undermine your union.

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