You’ve read the self-help books, bought some sexy lingerie, maybe even tried couples’ therapy—but somehow your relationship still can’t seem to regain its spark. Well, it may be that you’re trying all the wrong strategies. Recent relationship research has turned up some unusual ways to reignite passion, bolster communication, and strengthen the bond between you and your partner. Here, four to try.
Go on a double date
A recent study from Wayne State University found that interacting with another couple can make you and your partner feel more romantic toward each other. “Couples should avoid the trend many couples have of withdrawing further from their social networks as a relationship endures,” says lead author Keith Welker. “Spending time together with friends and meeting new people is a source of support, personal growth, and new experiences to share with each other—and that can help relationships flourish.”
Improving your relationship might be as simple as enjoying a movie together and discussing it afterward. A recent study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology assigned 174 newlywed couples to three relationship interventions: conflict management, compassion training, or guided movie discussion. Three years later, they found that the movie group worked just as well in reducing divorce and separation rates: all three intervention groups had a divorce rate of 11% versus 24% in the control group.
The movie watchers screened five romantic films where a relationship was the major plot focus (such as As Good as it Gets, Nine Months, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner). Afterward they answered questions about the fictional pair such as “Did this couple strive to understand each other?” If you want to engage in your own viewing party, the movies and discussion questions are available online.
Keep your partner healthy
This is more of a long-term project, but apparently it can pay off. A recent study of more than 950 couples published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that when a man is in poor health, his wife was more likely to report high levels of conflict in the marriage. The reverse wasn’t true, though—an unhealthy wife didn't make a man unhappier in his marriage. Just don’t nag your guy about unhealthy eating habits or weight gain because it can backfire. Learn the 5 things NOT to say to your partner about losing weight.
Try something new
Break out of your date night rut and experiment with something exhilarating (trapeze class, perhaps?), educational (finally learn how to order dinner in Spanish) or romantic (take a salsa dance lesson). “Novel and arousing activities can increase passionate love,” says Welker.
Related: 29 Days to a Healthier Relationship