J-Lo said it best when she sang, "My love don't cost a thing". While grand gestures and expensive gifts might be nice, they're not realistic for most couples -- not regularly, anyway. And besides, true happiness doesn't come from material things.
"Happy couples do little things every day that helps keep the relationship on track," relationship expert Melissa Ferrari told HuffPost Australia.
"Relationship rituals only require a few minutes of your time every day, but go a very long way in boosting your relationship."
Warning: ahead is some cheese, but instead of cringing, try a few of these out (you don't have to do them all in one day). Your relationship will be better for it.
Kiss passionately once a day
"Kissing can be very powerful as it releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for the feelings of comfort, care and connection that is created in the process of bonding," Ferrari said.
"Kissing also releases dopamine, which is the same chemical that plays a big role in addiction -- so you can actually get positively addicted to this lovely routine by doing it often enough. In some research, it has been shown that kissing can reduce cortisol levels and therefore help you with the daily stresses of life."
Do check-ins throughout the day
Thank god for the invention of text messages.
"Make sure your partner knows you are thinking about them when you're apart. Did your partner wake up with a blocked nose, or have a meeting scheduled they were nervous about that day? Send a message to see if they are feeling better or ask how the meeting went," Ferrari said.
"This shows your partner you are thinking about them even when you are not physically together, and makes them feel secure."
Gaze into your partner's eyes
Hear us out.
"Have you ever watched the exchange between a mother and a baby? This complex interaction fundamentally helps the baby feel loved, unique and special," Ferrari said.
"As adults, we still crave that feeling, so when our partner gazes at us with a loving look, it releases 'romance' neurochemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin, making us feel good, safe and secure. Take the time to look into your partner's eyes for at least a minute every day."
Walk in with a smile
The mood you come home in can rub off on your partner and your relationship.
"If you walk in the door every day with a sad or angry look on your face, your partner may think that the facial expression is about them and that you are not happy to be home. This can set up a negative evening together for both of you, and possibly the family."
"The brain is always searching for what feels safe and secure, and facial expressions plays an important part here. So when you walk in the door, make an effort to be aware and put a smile on your face -- even if it's just a tiny one," Ferrari said.
Express daily gestures of gratitude
You don't know what you've got until it's gone. Gratitude can fix that.
"It is easy to take each other for granted, especially if you have been together for quite some time. However, the happiest couples are grateful and show that every day."
"Gratitude doesn't just mean thanking your partner for doing a chore or giving them a genuine compliment, but regularly thinking about your partner's best qualities and why you first got together, and being grateful for having them in your life. Being and acting grateful every day will make your partner feel valued, and it will promote a positive cycle of generosity and love in your relationship," Ferrari said.
"Research shows the strongest couples have a ratio of five positive interactions to one negative, so by giving each other genuine compliments every day, you can boost the number of overall positive interactions."
Say hello and goodbye
Just like you would to anyone else.
"Hellos and goodbyes are really important every day, so never leave the house without looking your partner in the eyes and hugging them goodbye. When you come home, rather than going to your children or pets first, go straight to your partner and gaze into their eyes and hug them."
"This sets a positive tone for the whole day when you're apart, and for the evening when you are back together," Ferrari said.
Go to bed together
This one is probably the trickiest, but try do do it a few times a week if you can.
"You may have different body clocks, but the happiest couples tend to go to bed and wake up together -- so try and sync your clocks. Research shows that about three and a half years into a relationship, couples tend to stop going to bed at the same time, which can be a big mistake."
"Talking about your day and cuddling before you go to sleep is one of the most intimate moments in a couple's day. So try to stay on the same sleep schedule and go to bed together so you get the chance to connect. In the morning, set your alarm five minutes early so you can wake up and cuddle, which will give your day a great start," Ferrari said.Suggest a correction