The Best Relationship Advice From Real People

Reader's Digest Charlotte Hilton Andersen   A QUICK CHECK-IN Whether it's a call on the drive home from work or a pow-wow in the kitchen... Read More

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen



Whether it’s a call on the drive home from work or a pow-wow in the kitchen as soon as you both walk in, a quick check-in with your spouse will get you both on the same page. ‘Sometimes it is planning coordination for which kid is going where and other times it is catching up on what’s going on in both of our worlds,’ say Melissa and Aaron Sauser, of Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Turn on the comedy channel, tell a joke, or buy a cartoon-a-day calendar, and then share the giggles. ‘There is nothing like the unity that comes when you are both laughing together about the same thing at the same time,’ say Amy and Vaughan Nelson, of Lacey, Washington. The key to a great laugh fest? ‘It can’t be at the other person’s expense!’ Amy adds.


Nothing is more relaxing after a long day than a little massage, but the problem is always who gets the massage first? Fortunately Andrea diTullio and Antonio Fortunato, of Timmins, Ontario have found the perfect solution: ‘I massage his neck and shoulders while he sits on the ground in between my legs and massages my feet,’ Andrea says. ‘We do this while chatting about our day.’ Talk about a win-win situation.


Megan Michael and Paul Cooney, of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, like to head to separate rooms as soon as they get home. ‘We need some initial alone time after work because we like to unwind independently,’ Michael says. After recharging solo, she says, they’re relaxed and ready to spend quality time together.


Having a shared goal, like a marathon or triathlon, is a great way to bond while achieving something together that would be a lot harder on your own. ‘We train for triathlons together, cook healthy meals together, and even clean together,’ say Leah and Joel White, of Austin, Texas. ‘It’s nice to have someone who you’d rather spend time with than do anything else!’ she adds.


‘Our after-work ritual? Always a smooch and a hug. Always,’ say Carson and Leah Kinney, of Apple Valley, Minnesota. Nothing cures a bad day like a little loving from a loved one. And if it leads to a little something more? Even better.


Board games are anything but boring when playing with your significant other. ‘We put the kids to bed and play Scrabble,’ say Sasha and Janette Kudin, of Winterville, North Carolina. ‘And we get super competitive!’ Scrabble not your speed? Try cards or any other game that lets you both unwind.


Your pooch has been cooped up indoors all day and could use some exercise. And you’ve been cooped up indoors all day too and, let’s be honest, could also use some exercise. ‘We take our dog for a walk and use the time to unwind and reconnect,’ say Lizzie and Rich Ballinger, of the United Kingdom. Here are 16 ways you didn’t realize you could lose weight while walking.


If the weather’s warm, try shaking up your routine by moving your evening meal to a more scenic location. (Or if it’s cold, try a blanket on your living room floor.) Kris and Aaron Olsen, of Fort Recovery, Ohio, swear by this picnic trick, saying the change of pace can give you time to talk and relax. And it doesn’t have to be fancy—sandwiches taste 100 percent better at the park, we swear!


Protect your heart and your love by meeting up at the gym for a little after-work sweat session. All the endorphins will help you bond and you can work out any anger on the punching bag. Plus, say Minnesota newlyweds Meghan and Dave Johnson, ‘It helps to keep us motivated knowing the other person is waiting there and it also means we are working out at the same time so we can be together when we are home.’ Exercise is just one of many ways your spouse can affect your health.


Anna and Joe Raway, of Lakeville, Maryland, restore old furniture and auction it together. Not only is it a great way to do something physical together—always a relief after a long day in an office—but they earn a little pocket money too. Not into furniture? Pick a different crafty hobby to try together. Some couples we spoke with also did house projects, painted, or even carved wine corks (it’s a thing!) together.


There’s just something about the dark that helps people open up and speak from the heart, say Steve and Sabrina Winder, of Denver, Colorado. Take advantage of this and head out for a walk together after dusk. You can share your deepest feelings or just enjoy the cool evening air.


Literally. Netflix and a cuddle on the couch is Marci and Alex Petersen’s favorite way to unwind. ‘Well, it’s more like flop on the couch with a movie on until we’ve reached an acceptable bedtime or one of us falls asleep. Whichever comes first,’ the Midvale, Utah, mom says.


‘We head out for ‘walktails’ after work,’ say South Carolinians and new parents Presley and Ryne Salmon. ‘That’s drinks and then a walk with the kids.’ And while a little libation can go a long way in smoothing frayed nerves after a long day, your cocktail doesn’t have to be alcoholic. Just the process of mixing up a tasty beverage together can be fun.


‘We always make time to pray together after work,’ say Bethany and David Kirk of Omak, Washington. Sharing your spirituality and faith can be a deeply bonding experience.


Dinnertime as a family is non-negotiable for Lindsey and Joe Murray, of Navarre, Florida. ‘We eat dinner together no matter how busy we are!’ she says.


‘We like to cuddle up and watch HGTV [Home and Garden Television] together and talk about our future dreams and ideas,’ say Janice and Paul Smith, of Milton, Ontario. If house projects aren’t your thing, try planning your dream vacation or throw around ideas for a business. Even if you never act on it, just dreaming about a beautiful future is half the fun.


Chores may not be the sexiest thing a couple can do together but there’s no way around it, they have to get done. And working together can make a boring task into an opportunity to talk and help each other out. ‘On a weeknight when we’ve both been at work, I’ll make dinner while my husband cleans the kitchen,’ says Ann Hilton, of Vancouver, Washington. ‘Then we’re both relaxed and will watch a movie or something on TV together.’ Check out these surprising benefits of doing chores.


Luella Widt and Shayne Crump, of Brisbane, Australia like to jump in a nice, hot shower together after getting home from their respective late-night gigs (they’re both musicians). ‘We use the time to chat about our day and afterward have a glass of wine or tea,’ Luella says.


‘We like to have a glass of scotch and discuss philosophy,’ say Diana and Mark Raabe, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Talking about shared interests and passions is a great way to remember why you fell in love in the first place.

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