5 Must-Have Nightly Rituals for Couples

Couples therapist Laura Heck shares her MUST-HAVE nightly rituals for couples.

#1  Go to Bed at The Same Time

This is perhaps the most common advice most relationship experts give about healthy bedtime routine, and the most often ignored.  The most recent findings suggest that when couples go to bed at the same time, female partners view daytime interactions more positively during the day.

Going to bed at the same time doesn`t necessarily mean that both partners must sleep, but it does protect this sacred time to connect physically each day...and I don`t mean sexually.  Cuddling releases oxytocin which is a hormone responsible for making you feel bonded, close and connected to your cuddle partner.  There are other health benefits to oxytocin release, including reduced blood pressure, reduced heart disease and reduced stress and anxiety.

#2  Read the Same Book at Night.  Turn a Solitary Act into a Powerful Habit for Two

Reading jolts the brain and conversation among partners.  Research shows that couples can grow closer by revealing and sharing new thoughts, ideas and fantasies with each other.  Reading the same book and then discussing it is a fun and entertaining way for couples to grow closer together.

#3  Express Gratitude

As the study of emotional well-being and happiness gains popularity, expression of gratitude has taken center stage as a daily habit we all should begin integrating into our practice.  Discussion of what you are grateful for helps to increase your own awareness and also promotes a positive connection with your partner.  Dr. Gottman found that healthy couples actively scan their environment for what is going right, instead of seeking to find fault.

One simple way to express your gratitude daily is to ask your partner:  What`s one thing you loved about me today?

#4  Share Your Goal for Tomorrow

Sharing your goal with your partner has many benefits, including accountability, however the secret less known benefit of sharing your goals with your partner is the profound impact it has on creating a deeper, more meaningful relationship.  Sharing your desires/hopes/dreams can be a place of true vulnerability, and when you externalize your inner world to your partner, you are trusting your partner with the softest parts of you.  If you want to really close the loop, be sure to follow up the next night by asking about the goal they set for today and how it went.

#5  Touch Your Partner

I`ll let you decide if you want your touch to be physical touch or sexual touch (they are different) but both are important in relationships.  Either way, I want you to put your hands on your partner.  Back scratch, foot massage, hair petting, butterfly kisses, arm tickles...the options are endless.  In my household, we have something called '5 for 5' where we take turns giving a massage for five minutes and then switch.  Sometimes we stop at 10 minutes and sometimes we keep switching for an hour.  Everybody is a happy in the end.  If you are interested in sexual touch, be explicitly clear with your words that you desire a sexual connection and not just a foot massage.

For more tips and relationship advice, visit her website www.laurahecktherapy.com and www.forbetter.us.