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Health & Sex

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The Sweetness Factor

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Jessie Knadler
Redbook Magazine Logo

Looking for a relationship pick-me-up? All you need is a spoonful of sugar. “It’s easy to feel embarrassed or shy about being sweet to each other, especially in our cynical, hard-edged culture,” says REDBOOK Love Network expert Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of The Commuter Marriage. “But adding sweetness to your words and actions is the best thing you can do to bring positive energy to your relationship, which makes everything else easier.” Bonus: It’s human nature to copy each other, so if you’re sweet to him, you’ll get it right back. Here’s how:

Express gratitude

“Men want to make you happy, so telling your partner that you appreciate him is really powerful,” says Tessina. But with our busy, hectic lives, it becomes easy to take each other for granted. Look around and notice what you are grateful for (he actually made the bed!), and you’ll find lots of reasons to give thanks.

Be polite

May I, please, you’re welcome — we’re taught from childhood to use these magic words. But often, we make the effort only with casual acquaintances, like coworkers or the cashier at the grocery store. “Being courteous is a sign of respect and love — and it’s the people closest to us who deserve it most,” says Tessina.

Look, smile, and touch

Don’t forget all the ways you can communicate without words. Put your hand on his leg while he’s driving, lock eyes and flash him a smile while you’re sitting at the dinner table, or rub his back during a movie. You’ll keep the energy — and the sweetness — flowing between you.

Celebrate milestones, both big and small

Most of us manage to scribble “I love you” on an anniversary card, but honoring small successes (like, “We did our taxes without fighting!”) gives you more reasons to celebrate and be proud of each other, Tessina says. If you want to work toward a sweet, loving marriage, rejoice in every tiny step you take in that direction.

Originally published on May 15, 2008

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