TIME celebrities

Eva Mendes Takes a Stand Against the Tyranny of Sweatpants

Eva Mendes during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival on March 14, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
Michael Loccisano—2015 Getty Images Eva Mendes during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival on March 14, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

“Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!”

You know how every celebrity divorce is attributed to “irreconcilable differences” and you’re always like: What does that mean? Hollywood insider Eva Mendes is spilling the truth about the root cause of that phrase, and it is: sweatpants.

“No!” you cry, clutching your ratty Sorority Fun Run and Pancake Breakfast ’05 pair to your chest! “You can take my freedom but you can’t take my sweats!” But Mendes is here to deliver the cold, hard truth about your warm, soft pants.

“You can’t do sweatpants,” she said on Extra while promoting her makeup line, Circa. “Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!”

This leaves the question of what she wears to lounge around the house when home with boyfriend Ryan Gosling. Caftans? Teddies? Nothing? What happens if he sees her after a workout? The only reason we ask is because we are looking to lock down a Gosling doppelgänger and will do whatever it takes.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Divorce More Likely When Wife Gets Seriously Ill, Study Finds

'Life-or-death experiences may cause people to re-evaluate what’s important in their lives'

A marriage is more likely to end in divorce when a wife is seriously ill, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that a marriage was 6% more likely to end in divorce when a wife was diagnosed with serious illness than in marriages where the wife remained healthy. The study looked at data from more than 2,700 marriages with at least one partner over the age of 50. A husband’s illness did not affect the chances of divorce.

The study did not explain how illness may have led to divorce, but lead author Amelia Karraker said that illness can stress a marriage in many ways.

“Life-or-death experiences may cause people to re-evaluate what’s important in their lives,” said Karraker, an assistant professor at Iowa State University. “It could be that women are saying, ‘You’re doing a bad job of caring for me,’ ‘I’m not happy with this,’ or ‘I wasn’t happy with the relationship to begin with.’”

Nearly a third of the marriages evaluated ended in divorce while nearly a quarter ended in the death of one spouse.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Teen Dating Violence Harms Both Genders, Government Report Shows

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New data on teen dating violence reveals problems among both sexes

Findings from a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveal that nearly 21% of female teens who date have experienced some form of violence at the hands of their partner in the last year—and almost half of male students report the same.

The survey asked about 9,900 high school students whether they had experienced some type of violence from someone they dated. The results, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, showed that about 7% of teen girls reported experiencing physical violence, 8% said they experienced sexual violence and 6% experienced both. Almost 21% said they were the victim of some type of dating-related violence. For boys, about 4% reported experiencing physical violence, 3% experienced sexual violence and 10% experienced any type. Though girls were more likely to experience violence, the numbers show dating assaults affect young boys as well.

The new CDC survey adds to its prior research into the prevalence of dating violence, but the latest version asked updated questions that include sexual violence and more accurately portray violent behaviors, the study authors say.

Most of the teens surveyed reported experiencing such violence more than one time. The findings also showed that those who experienced some form of dating violence also had a higher prevalence of other health risks like drinking alcohol, using drugs or thinking about suicide.

Future research should look at the frequency of violence in teen dating relationships and how that may harm teens’ health, the researchers conclude.

TIME Sex/Relationships

IUDs Are Getting More Popular With American Women

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More U.S. women are using the IUD or implant

American women are increasingly opting for longer-lasting and highly effective forms of birth control, according to new federal data released on Tuesday.

New numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show women are choosing long-lasting reversible contraceptives (LARC) like the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant more than they have in the past. According to the numbers, IUD use increased 83% from 2006–2010 to 2011–2013 and implants tripled in use during the same time period. Both methods are approximately 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

“I am delighted LARC use is rising. It’s terrific and I would like to see even more,” says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine.

Overall, the use of LARC has increased fivefold in the past decade among women between the ages of 15 to 44, though overall usage remains low. Use spiked from 1.5% in 2002 to 7.2% in between 2011 and 2013. Women ages 25 to 34 are the most likely to choose LARC at 11% compared with 5% of women ages 15 to 24 and around 5.3% of women ages 35 to 44.

As TIME previously reported, one reason for the slow uptake among American women is that older versions of the IUDs from the 1970s and ’80s were plagued with problems. The new CDC data shows that LARC use declined between 1982 and 1988 and remained stable from 1988 to 1995. Today, IUDs are considered very safe and effective. Planned Parenthood told TIME it has experienced a 75% increase in IUD use among its patients since 2008.

“I think the current generation of women haven’t heard about the errors of the past, which is good,” says Minkin. “They are looking anew at LARC and looking at them for the value they have. People can forget their pills. These other methods take the human variable out of it, and they work very nicely.” (Minkin was not involved in the new study.)

MORE: Why the Best Form of Birth Control Is the One No One Is Using

New, separate data published Monday in the journal Contraception showed that among 500 female health care providers, 42% used LARC, which is significantly higher than the general population.

Women in other countries are significantly more likely to use LARC, especially the IUD. Separate research has shown that 23% of French women using contraception use an IUD as well as 27% of Norwegian women and 41% of women in China. In the U.S., cost may be a factor: the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health nonprofit, reports that their research shows sharp increases in the numbers of women who don’t have to pay out of pocket for LARC thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Without insurance coverage, LARC can be prohibitively expensive for some — around $900 for an IUD, for instance.

“If you have contraceptive coverage that makes it much more doable,” says Minkin, “I think it increases the availability and viability for women.”

TIME relationships

The Valentine’s Day That Should Have Stopped Me From Getting Married

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

All I wanted to do was to give him a special gift for Valentine's Day

xojane

I think it’s safe to say the color most closely associated with Valentine’s Day is red. Red hearts, red roses, red wine. Or in the case of my 2003 Valentine’s Day, red flags.

I was never super-into Valentine’s Day — at least not after elementary school; I would actually take a lot of care choosing my mass-marketed, perforated Valentines at CVS and deciding whichGarfield & Friends” character made the most sense to give to which classmate. Once I got to middle school, I quickly realized it served as an opportunity to feel rejected if I didn’t have a boyfriend or disappointed if I did and he didn’t put as much thought into a gift as I did. (I’m sorry, but a personalized dude-bracelet from Things Remembered is a way more thoughtful gift than a made-in-China teddy bear from Drug Fair.)

Come high school, Valentine’s Day just became uncomfortable. My freshman year, a sophomore boy who had a girlfriend snuck an extremely intense, handwritten poem into my backpack — my first taste of how terrible people can be to their significant others on a day that’s supposed to celebrate them. After that, I don’t even think I acknowledged Valentine’s Day until my sophomore year of college, when I bought the guy I’d been dating for two weeks a frame for his favorite picture of him and his best friend, and he bought me a white negligee; that sufficiently creeped out sexually inexperienced 19-year-old me.

Because every day is Valentine’s Day when you’re in love, I got engaged on a random October day in 2002, at age 23, to a guy I’d been dating for only about half a year. We just knew, you guys, we just knew. Terry (most definitely not his actual name) and I had met through The Onion‘s online personals (do those even exist anymore?) before Internet dating was even remotely normal, and in addition to all the lovey-dovey stuff we were pretty sure we were genuinely feeling, we were intent on proving that rushing into marriage in one’s mid-20s after meeting through a satirical-news website was a totally reasonable thing to do and also probably the wave of the future.

MORE 17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

The following Valentine’s Day would be our first together. Neither of us cared about it, but in the grips of excited fiancéehood, I thought, hey, why not do a little something special? My idea: Print out and frame the deactivated Onion dating profiles that brought us together.

A few months earlier, I had made the mistake of forgetting to deactivate my profile and was very publicly reminded to when, early in the summer, I became a “featured single” in Time Out New York, which mined The Onion and Nerve for its personals. Terry’s profile was also still active at the time; it was our first time doing online dating and we honestly just forgot that we’d have to proactively disable our listings. After my embarrassing appearance in TONY, he and I both turned off our profiles. We actually took turns doing so at the same computer, and he even unsolicitedly told me his password as a symbol of his trustworthiness.

On the afternoon of February 14, while Terry was at work at a wine shop in our neighborhood, I signed back into The Onion personals for the first time since I’d deactivated my account back in the summer. I figured if I couldn’t find his inactive profile by directly typing in its old URL, it would be okay to sign into his account using the password he’d told me — just this once — so I could access the old profile and print it out. Even the idea of innocently doing that for the sake of the gift made me uncomfortable, though, so I was relieved when, after typing in the URL of his old profile while still signed into my account, it was viewable.

The relief immediately turned to nauseated distress when I realized the profile was still active. I had seen him deactivate it months ago; either he hadn’t done it correctly, or he’d reactivated it at some point since we’d gotten engaged.

It soon became clear that it was the latter, because the content of his profile was completely, horribly, devastatingly different.

“I’m engaged to an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between merlot and cabernet,” it read. “I’m miserable. If you’re an oenophile and aren’t put off by my current situation, let’s talk.”

It took every muscle in my body to keep vomit down; I literally clenched my feet to help stop myself from throwing up. My face was tingling painfully, like when a limb falls asleep. I was too upset to cry — yet.

Feeling like my body was being held together by safety pins, I called Terry. I knew he wasn’t allowed to have his cell phone on the store floor, so I wasn’t surprised when it went to voicemail.

“Terry, you need to come home as soon as possible,” I said, knowing the anger I was trying to keep contained was clear in my voice. “If they let anyone go home early tonight, please make sure it’s you.”

As I waited for him to come home, I started digesting what I’d seen. My fiancé hated me, apparently due to my wine ignorance, and he was actively looking to either cheat on me or leave me for someone else. He hadn’t let on to me that he was unhappy, that my lack of interest in wine or anything else about me was enough to do something so cruel.

An hour later, and shortly after I’d finally started crying, Terry walked through the door.

“What’s wrong?” he said, seeming genuinely concerned.

I handed him a printout of his profile — a much different printout than I had intended to frame for Valentine’s Day.

“What is this?” he said, playing dumb.

“Oh, come on,” I said, my volume already bordering on a yell.

“Uh… wow,” he started. “One of the guys must have done this as a joke,” meaning one of the guys in his sketch-comedy group. He knew I was insecure about whether or not they liked me, so they were an easy scapegoat.

He looked up at me, and one of his eyes crossed. That was his tell. That was what I’d come to identify as the sign he was lying.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Terry, don’t lie to me,” I shouted, my face red and wet.

He was quiet for a while. I could tell he just wanted to run, or at least go into a different room, but we lived in a studio apartment. If he felt stuck with me before, I imagine it was infinitely intensified in those moments.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said, sighing. “I’ve been freaking out lately.”

“Why not tell me?” I think I was screeching at this point because our dog, Max, had hidden in the bathroom. “Why do this? Why call me an idiot and look for someone to cheat on me with, and on a public website? The one we met on!”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. He looked like he might start crying, too.

“Do you want to marry me?” It was a question, but my inflection went down at the end of the sentence.

Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.”

“I don’t believe you,” I replied.

And I shouldn’t have. He wasn’t ready to marry me or anyone else. He wasn’t ready to admit that there were many things about me — many non-wine-related things — that he didn’t like. But after several days of his timid attentiveness, I forgave him.

And after several months of trying to forget a flag so red it was practically on fire, I married him.

I think we actually did love each other, at least a little bit; but more than anything, I think we wanted to not be wrong. We wanted to believe two twentysomethings who couldn’t even make ends meet had made the right decisions, no matter how hasty and immature and delusional those decisions were.

About two years after we got married, we separated — and far more amicably than we’d spent the second year of our marriage. Our goodwill toward each other had run out, and we had matured enough to admit we weren’t right for each other and never had been.

Although I know, looking back, that I should have swallowed my pride and called off the wedding after that Valentine’s Day, there’s no point wasting time regretting how things panned out.

I’m actually really pleased with the balance I’ve developed between being guarded and trusting, and it’s something I’m always fine-tuning. My tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt might prevent me from fully honing my red-flag-detecting abilities, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never marry another guy who calls me an idiot — to my face, on a dating website, or otherwise.

Marci Robin wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sex/Relationships

6 Weird Things You Never Knew About Kissing

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Who knew kissing could make you healthier in so many ways?

Romantic kissing happens in more than 90% of all cultures, and with good reason: “It helps us find a partner and stay with them,” says Laura Berman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and author of Loving Sex ($25, amazon.com). But it also has a slew of surprising functions, including some major health benefits. Pucker up to these fascinating facts.

It may be the most fun way to build immunity

Just 10 seconds of French kissing can transfer 80 million germs from one person’s mouth to the other, according to a Dutch study published this past November in the journal Microbiome. While that may sound gross, there’s a big potential benefit. “It’s a way to pass around bugs so your body develops immunity to them,” Berman explains. In fact, a 2010 paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses suggested that kissing between partners could help protect their babies from being infected in utero with cytomegalovirus, which can cause birth defects such as infant blindness.

Read more: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

It really is ‘in his kiss’

Women rate romantic kissing as more important when they’re close to ovulation—in other words, when they’re more likely to get pregnant. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, researchers say: Kissing offers a way to assess a mate through taste or smell.

It may boost your libido

While both sexes enjoy French kissing with long-term partners, guys “preferred more tongue contact” than women with short-term mates, according to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in 2007. (The study was done with college students, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt.) “One theory is that their saliva transfers testosterone to the woman, which in turn increases her sexual desire,” explains Berman.

Read more: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

It boosts happy hormones

“When you kiss, your brain releases this chemical that leaves you feeling connected and bonded to your mate,” explains Berman. It also releases endorphins, those same feel-good chemicals your body produces when you work out. Another relaxing bonus: kissing lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a 2009 study done at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

It may save your relationship

Both men and women who report frequent kissing in their relationship report more sexual satisfaction, according to a 2011 Kinsey Institute study. Guys who frequently smooched were also three times happier in their relationship than guys with limited snuggling. (Interestingly, frequent kissing didn’t predict relationship satisfaction for women.)

It can last for days—literally

The longest kiss award goes to Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat, who smooched for 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds in Pattaya, Thailand, on February 12-14, 2013. They beat out eight other couples who entered the competition. Wonder how much training they had to do to prepare for that one!

Read more: 20 Ways to Fall in Love All Over Again

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Your IUD and Implant Last Much Longer Than They Claim, Study Says

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Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME; Corbis

These long-acting contraceptives might last even longer than you think

Two highly effective contraceptives—the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant—actually last much longer than they are currently recommended, according to new research.

In a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers discovered that the hormonal IUD and the implant are highly effective a year after they are currently approved for use.

MORE: The IUD Answer: Why The Best Form of Birth Control is the One No One Uses

The researchers followed 237 women who were using an implant like Implanon and Nexplanon and 263 women using the Mirena hormonal IUD. The implants are currently approved for three years, and the hormonal IUD used in the study is approved for five. (There is also a non-hormonal IUD that is approved for 12 years, but it was not included in the current study.)

All the women were between the ages of 18 and 45 and their contraceptives were within six months of expiring before they enrolled in the study. The women were informed of the pregnancy risk associated with using their device longer than recommended, and the researchers called them for followup every 6 months for 36 months or until the women had their device removed.

By the end of the trial period, none of the women using the implant were pregnant and there was one pregnancy among the women using the IUD. Still, the failure rate was similar to the failure rate of the IUD when used during the five-year period (which is under 1%). The study is still ongoing, and the researchers plan to recruit up to 800 women and ultimately test whether the IUDs and implants were effective for up to three years after their current FDA-approved duration.

The benefit of being able to use the implant and IUD for a longer period of time is that it could reduce costs for individuals and insurance. The longer use also makes the IUD and implant more convenient for women, since maintenance is reduced.

Though the data is preliminary, the researchers say they believe that the hormonal IUD and the implant can both be used for an additional year longer than the FDA recommends. That doesn’t mean you should extend your own use of the contraceptives without talking to your doctor. The study is still continuing, and it could be quite a long time before any changes to clinical recommendations are considered.

TIME psychology

5 Things You Need To Know About Kissing

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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Men and women kiss for different reasons. “Males tend to kiss as a means of gaining sexual favors, or as a means of affecting reconciliation… Females kiss more as a mate-assessment device.”

— The odds a woman will kiss her partner on their first date are 1 in 1.85, or about 54%.

— Most people naturally turn their head to the right when kissing, whether they’re left or right handed.

— Kissing is healthy. Couples instructed to kiss more “experienced improvements in perceived stress, relationship satisfaction, and total serum cholesterol.”

— Men are more likely to enjoy their first kiss than women are. In fact, women are more likely to remember their first pair of shoes than their first kiss.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sex/Relationships

8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain

It can boost your mood, relieve pain, and more

Understanding how sex affects your brain can improve your roll in the hay, and it may also shed light on other parts of your health, says Barry R. Komisaruk, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. It’s not the easiest subject to study—test subjects might have to masturbate inside an MRI machine—so research is still developing. But scientists are starting to unravel the mystery. Here’s what we know so far about your brain on sex.

Sex is like a drug

Sex makes us feel good. That’s why we want it, like it, and spend so much time hunting for mates. The pleasure we get from sex is largely due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is also one of the chemicals responsible for the high people get on certain drugs. “Taking cocaine and having sex don’t feel exactly the same, but they do involve the same [brain] regions as well as different regions of the brain,” says Timothy Fong, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. Caffeine, nicotine, and chocolate also tickle the reward center, says Komisaruk.

Sex can act like an antidepressant

A 2002 study out of the University at Albany looked at 300 women and found that those who had sex without a condom had fewer depressive symptoms than women who did use a condom. The researchers hypothesized that various compounds in semen, including estrogen and prostaglandin, have antidepressant properties, which are then absorbed into the body after sex. (They corrected for other things that might affect both mood and condom use, such as being in a serious relationship or use of oral contraceptives.) This is good news for anyone who is in a committed relationship, but if you’re still playing the field, then you shouldn’t give up condoms. There are other ways to boost mood, but really no other way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Read more: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

Sex can (sometimes) be a downer

Those feel-good chemicals may be going full blast during the act, but after? According to researchers, there is such a thing as post-sex blues (technical term: postcoital dysphoria). About one-third of the women participating in one study reported having experienced sadness after sex at some point in time. While it’s possible that regret or feeling coerced might be the reason why, researchers can’t explain the connection at this point for sure.

Sex relieves pain

Don’t skip sex when you have a headache. Research shows that doing the deed may relieve your symptoms. In a 2013 German study, 60% of participants who had migraines and 30% of cluster-headache sufferers who had sex during a headache episode reported partial or total relief. Other studies have found that women who stimulated an area of the G spot had an elevation in pain threshold. “It took greater pain stimulus for them to feel the pain,” says Beverly Whipple, PhD, a professor emerita at Rutgers University who has conducted some research on the topic. Whipple didn’t study why this was so, but other researchers have attributed the effect to oxytocin, the so-called bonding hormone that helps mothers and babies bond and which also has pain-relieving properties.

Read more: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love

Sex can wipe your memory clean

Each year, fewer than 7 people per 100,000 experience “global transient amnesia,” a sudden but temporary loss of memory that can’t be attributed to any other neurological condition. The condition can be brought on by vigorous sex, as well as emotional stress, pain, minor head injuries, medical procedures, and jumping into hot or cold water. The forgetfulness can last a few minutes or a few hours. During an episode, a person cannot form new memories or remember very recent events. Fortunately, there seem to be no lasting effects.

Sex may boost your memory

Or at least it might if you’re a rodent. A 2010 study found that, compared with rats who were allowed only one one-night stand, rodents who engaged in “chronic” sex (once a day for 14 consecutive days) grew more neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory. The findings were backed up by a second study, also in mice. It remains to be seen if regular sex also has this effect in humans (but you can always tell yourself it does).

Read more: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Sex calms you down

The same study that linked frequent sex to a brain boost in rats also found that the rats were less stressed. This works for humans, too. One study found that people who’d just had sexual intercourse had better responses to stressful situations like public speaking than people who had not, or who had engaged in other types of sexual activity. How did sex ease stress? In this case, by lowering blood pressure.

Sex makes you sleepy

Sex is more likely to make men sleepy than women, and scientists think they know why: The part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex winds down after ejaculation. This, along with the release of oxytocin and serotonin, may account for the “rolling over and falling asleep” syndrome.

Read more: Best and Worst Foods for Sex

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 5 Things You Need To Know About Kissing

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TIME Sex/Relationships

20 Ways to Fall In Love All Over Again

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Rekindle your love with these 20 tips

There are lots of great things about being in a long-term relationship: Research shows that happy couples, in many ways, have better health and overall wellbeing than their single or divorced peers. After all, a loving partner can offer companionship, comfort, and physical and emotional support when you need it.

But after years of marriage or dating, a significant other can start to feel more like a roommate than a romantic partner. Maybe you’ve grown apart, you’re busy with work and kids, or the spark’s just not there anymore. For whatever reason you’ve found yourself falling out of love, here’s how the experts suggest you find your way back in.

Be more touchy-feely

“Long-term couples don’t touch enough,” says Wendy Walsh, clinical psychologist and founder of AskALoveGuru.com, a site that matches relationship therapists with potential clients. “When we touch—especially skin-to-skin—we get a little rush of the brain chemicals that help trigger those loving feelings.” Think about how often you and your partner actually share physical contact on a daily basis. If it’s just a quick peck on the lips before and after work, make an effort to step up your game, says Walsh. She cites research showing that a 20-second hug can trigger a significant oxytocin release. “Most married couples hug for three seconds or less,” she says. “So I advise them, two to three times a day, to stop what they’re doing and hold a long, calm embrace. It can change your biochemistry, and you’ll begin to bond again.”

Sleep closer together

That same rush of brain chemicals can also come from physical contact in bed—and not just during sex, either. Sleeping skin-to-skin, whether it’s full-on spooning or even just touching toes, can have relationship benefits, too. In fact, a 2014 survey presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival found that couples who slept the closest to each other reported having more relationship satisfaction. “Of course we don’t know if sleeping apart causes dissatisfaction or if happier couples simply sleep closer, but why not just try to get closer and see if it helps?” says Walsh. “Get the toddler or the dog out of the bed and try snuggling for at least a few minutes.”

Limit technology

“If you haven’t put your family and your relationship on a technology diet yet, this is the year to do it,” says Walsh. “Nothing is killing communication faster right now than guys starting at their iPhones while girls are trying to talk to them at the dinner table, or vice versa.” Science supports her claim, too: In a 2014 Brigham Young University survey of heterosexual women, 70% felt that smartphones and other devices were interfering with their love lives.

Walsh recommends forming an agreement with your partner to cut out phones and television at mealtimes and in the bedroom, or deciding together about specific times you will and will not use technology. “Otherwise, you won’t give each other your full attention, and it’s easy to become annoyed or feel disconnected.”

Take a vacation

If work and family obligations have forced you and your partner to put your love life on the back burner, schedule some time off from your regular responsibilities. Getting away may help you focus on each other (instead of distractions like the bathroom that needs repairs), but even a staycation or a long weekend at home—if you treat it right—can be enough to refresh your bond. Before you go, though, have an honest conversation about your expectations, says Alexandra Solomon, licensed clinical therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. “It’s important to discuss how much time you’ll spend together, whether you want to have more sex than usual, and what you hope to accomplish in terms of your relationship,” she says. “It can feel unromantic to lay it out ahead of time, but it will reduce your chances of feeling disappointed if you both have different goals in mind.”

Read more: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

Say thank you

When you fall into habits in a relationship, you may take for granted the nice things your partner routinely does for you. And even if you do notice them, do you let him or her know you’re thankful? Gratitude is important, says Walsh. “Put a note in his briefcase letting him know you appreciate that he gets the dry cleaning every week,” she says, “or touch her on the arm and thank her for bringing you Starbucks every day.”

Solomon suggests keeping a gratitude journal, and writing down three things every day you’re thankful for—whether it’s related to your relationship or not. “It can foster a sense of wellbeing and openness that can improve your connection with your partner.”

Pucker up

Locking lips can play an important role in the quality of a long-term relationship, according to a 2013 study from Oxford University. In fact, researchers found that frequent kissing was even more important to relationship satisfaction than frequent sex. “A 30-second kiss gives us a warm, fuzzy, safe bonding feeling from that cuddle hormone, oxytocin,” says Bonnie Eaker Weil, relationship counselor and author of Make Up, Don’t Break Up. “Partners can give this feeling to each other by practicing a hug and a kiss—a mini connection—in the morning before work and before bed at night.”

Compliment each other

When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it’s easy to focus on the negative, says Walsh—which can lead to nagging, hurt feelings, and dissatisfaction on both sides. Instead, she says, try to focus more on the good things and less on the bad. “To use a garden analogy, water what you want to grow; don’t water the weeds.” Letting your partner know what you love about them—whether it’s physical, intellectual, or emotional—can actually help you see him or her in a more positive light, says Solomon. “When I have couples in therapy who are growing apart, I make sure they start our time together by sharing some compliments back and forth.”

Incorporate surprise

To relive the feeling of falling in love, says Eaker Weil, you’ve got to find new ways to trigger that rush of feel-good dopamine and oxytocin—like by incorporating novelty, excitement, and surprise into your not-so-new-anymore relationship. You may try “kidnapping” each other, she suggests, taking turns on different weekends to plan secret activity or destinations. Or try something simpler: “Date night but with something new—a new restaurant, or even new food at the same restaurant,” she says. “A weekend overnight in a new place, or a vacation without children; anything with the element of surprise.”

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Cultivate your own interests

Falling in love with someone isn’t all about what happens when you’re together; a lot of it has to do with what you’re doing on your own, says Solomon. “People become passive in their relationships when they become disengaged, and one of the main reasons they become disengaged is because they’re not satisfied with their own lives.” That’s why she encourages clients to make sure their lives contain something they feel passionate about individually—something their partner doesn’t necessarily share. “Say you love horseback riding,” she says. “If you come home from a ride feeling energetic and alive, you can bring a fuller, more engaged self to your relationship, as well.”

Observe your partner’s passions

Likewise, Solomon says, it’s important for your partner to have a passion, as well. And if you want to remember why you fell in love in the first place, find a way to witness your loved one in his or her most passionate state. “I have a friend who’s married to a fisherman, and while she’ll never share his love for fishing, she’s happy to navigate his boat and just honor his talent and watch him in his element,” says Solomon. “She gets to see him being alive and excited, and that’s really the best way to see your partner.”

Create something together

Once you’ve got your individual passions figured out, it’s also helpful to have something you can both pour your love and attention into. “The couples who last the longest tend to be the ones who create something together,” says Walsh. Often that something is children, she adds, but it can also be a business, a charity, or even a home-remodeling project. “Look for something you are both interested in—not just something you’re into and you think your spouse can get on board with,” she says. “When you work together on something you care about, you can see your partner in a different light.”

Go on double dates

You don’t need to spend all of your couple time one-on-one. In fact, inviting friends along once and a while can help you and your partner reaffirm your love for each other. In a 2014 Wayne State University study, people who went on double dates with other couples they were close with said they felt more affection and romantic feelings toward their partners. It turns out that watching your other half interact with friends can help you remember what you love about him or her, say the study authors—and praising each other in front of other people (bragging about her new promotion, or telling stories about what a good cook he is) can be a turn-on for both of you, too.

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Stare into each other’s eyes

In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron published a study suggesting that any two people could fall in love by asking each other a series of 36 questions, then staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes. In January, writer Mandy Len Catron wrote in the New York Times about trying the experiment herself with a former college acquaintance. “I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life,” Len Catron wrote in the newspaper’s Modern Love column. There’s no guarantee Aron’s method will work for everyone, but it did for her—she and her test subject soon fell in love.

Flirt with each other

Staying happy in a long-term relationship requires balancing two basic needs, according to Solomon: “We crave security and knowing somebody’s got our backs no matter what, but we also crave excitement and novelty and mystery,” she says. “The challenge is trying to have both of those things met by the same person—and one way couples can do that is by flirting with each other like they’ve just met.”

Flirting can be different for every couple, but anything affectionate, sexually suggestive, or playful can fit the bill. And while it may feel awkward to send an inappropriate text to the person you’ve been married to for years, it can help add excitement to a romance that feels stalled, says Solomon. “They key is finding a way to do it so you both feel comfortable and you’re having fun.”

Work out together

Breaking a sweat with your sweetie may increase your physical attraction, as well as your emotional bond. Research has found that after being physically active together, couples reported more relationship satisfaction and being more in love with their partners—and that physical arousal (elevated heart rate, heavy breathing, etc.) can often elicit romantic attraction. Eaker Weil recommends hitting the gym together, or finding a class or activity you can both enjoy. “It could be dancing or Jujitsu—anything that involves high energy play can cause a rush, and bonding toward your partner.”

Engage in pillow talk

In 2013, University of Connecticut research found that couples who disclosed positive feelings to each other after sex reported more relationship satisfaction than those who didn’t. This may be part of the way committed couples maintain their closeness and their romantic bond, the researchers say.

For an even better relationship boost, spend a few extra minutes after sex chatting and snuggling. Couples who engaged in post-sex affection (such as cuddling and caressing) during a 2014 University of Toronto study were generally happier with their sex lives and relationships overall, even three months later. “The findings suggest that the period after sex is a critical time for promoting satisfaction in intimate bonds,” the authors wrote.

Read more: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Don’t play games

If you’re feeling distant from your partner, you may think that putting on a sexy dress or doubling up on your sessions in the weight-room is the best way to get his or her attention and jump-start your flagging romance. And that may work—but it could also backfire: “If he or she doesn’t read your mind or notice that you’re trying to impress him or her, you could end up feeling worse and resentful,” says Solomon. Instead, Solomon suggests sitting down to talk honestly about how you feel. “Say something like, ‘I don’t feel particularly connected to you right now, and I have some thoughts about what I’d like to do differently to make us feel closer,'” she says. “That way, it’s less of a test that your partner passes or fails—you’re in it together, and you’re both making an effort.

Redefine date night

Scheduling regular time to be by yourselves as a couple, away from your work and home responsibilities, can help you stay connected and remember what you love about each other. But that doesn’t have to mean getting all dressed up and going out to a fancy dinner—it can be as simple as taking a walk together every night and discussing your day. “Going on a date can be the time you look at your partner not as a co-parent or a co-homeowner, but as the person you built your life with,” says Solomon. But couples should decide what’s romantic to them, she adds. “It doesn’t have to look like an episode of The Bachelor, with high heels and candles and roses. For some people it looks like Subway sandwiches on the beach, and for some people it looks like sitting at Barnes and Noble playing chess.”

Be there for each other

A 2009 study from Stony Brook University found that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be in a long-term relationship and maintain feelings of romantic love (and not just comfortable companionship) for many years. One secret to this lasting attraction? Having your partner’s back, and knowing that your partner also has yours. Adults who feel secure in their relationships tend to have higher self-esteem, the study found, which correlates to more feelings of “intense, exclusive focus” on their partners. “Thus, having the felt security that a partner is ‘there for you,’ not only makes for a smooth functioning relationship, but also may facilitate feelings of romantic love,” the authors wrote.

Adjust your expectations

Even with all of these tips, says Walsh, no relationship will be perfect—and that’s the most important thing to remember if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your love life. “We live in such a sexualized culture, people come in thinking something’s missing if they’re not having 50 Shades of Grey sex and swinging from the chandeliers,” she says. Before you decide your romance isn’t good enough, she says, remember that all long-term unions have ups and downs, and that love can be felt and expressed in many different ways. “A lot of people end up in therapy because their expectations don’t match the reality of their life, and they’re hoping to change their environment,” Walsh says. “Sometimes, what they really need to change is their outlook.”

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This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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