Routines get a bad rep when it comes to romance. (Cue images of eating dinner in front of the TV and passing out before you can even think about getting frisky.) But that's not necessarily the case. Plenty of super successful couples will tell you that routine isn't the enemy—in fact, establishing a nightly habit can help strengthen your bond and make you even happier. Yep, as counterintuitive as it may sound, the secret to staying out of a relationship rut might be to establish a daily routine.
To help you hone in on this secret relationship tactic, we asked real women about the evening habits that help keep their relationships going strong. Take their tried-and-true nightly activities to heart, and before you know it, you and bae will happily be in the habit of falling asleep holding hands each night. Awww.
1. TREAT EACH OTHER.
“Almost every night, we have ice cream or frozen yogurt treats. It's a little thing to see who volunteers to go downstairs and to the back of our big old house to the freezer to get them each night. Partway through whatever we’re watching that evening, one of us will ask, ‘Did you say something about popsicles?’ and the other will make the trek downstairs to the freezer where we keep a stock of frozen treats, and grab a surprise for the other. We settle in on the couch with our popsicles and our pups and just enjoy the downtime together. After 20 years of marriage, it's as much about the everyday tiny things as it is the grand gestures—if not more so!" —Dana, M., married 20 years
2. TAKE A STROLL.
"We normally spend all our evenings together. We both work at home and a 45-minute walk through the neighbourhood is a good end to the work day and start to the evening." —Linda M., married 16 years
3. GET IT ON.
“If we've gone more than a week without having sex, we both make a point to make time for that. I honestly believe that if you go too long without sex (like more than two to three weeks unless you physically can’t, due to illness or being apart) it can severely damage the connection in a relationship. Even when I couldn't have vaginal intercourse after giving birth, I think we probably waited only two to three weeks and then, let's just say, we got creative with non-vaginal sex...” —Kaitlin S., married six years
4. SPEND QUALITY TIME IN THE KITCHEN.
“Every night we cook dinner together—or at least keep one another company while the other cooks. When one of us gets home, the other always fixes the other a drink (usually not alcoholic, could just be sparkling water with lemon!) and for some reason that always feels like a nice way to start the evening.” —Ashley W., married two years
5. TURN TV TIME INTO TOGETHER TIME.
“Our weekday evening habits are to watch the evening news with a plate of olives and other noshes then have dinner. Afterward, we watch TV. I love our binges! It still feels like a real treat to sit and watch and snuggle.” —Lisa D., married six years
6. MAKE TIME TOGETHER A “CHORE.”
“When schedules get busy and we are coming home and eating at different times, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of launching into tasks. These bills need to get paid, this mail needs to get sorted, these dishes need to be washed. We try to make sure that some together time is also on the agenda.” —Naomi N., married six months
7. MAKE PILLOW TALK MORE MEANINGFUL.
“At bedtime, we each share what our three best memories are from the day and one thing that we are grateful for. We also sleep holding hands.” —Echo G., married 35 years
8. TUCK EACH OTHER IN.
“We usually go to bed at the same time, but on the nights we don't, the person staying up always tucks the other in. It sounds really silly, but it's something sweet and simple we do for each other. It helps us connect—especially when we’re both swamped with work. —Kelli B., married one year
9. SCHEDULE A REGULAR NIGHT OUT.
“I never really understood the concept of having regular "date nights" after marriage but now I totally get it! Going out really encourages conversation and forces you to relax and just spend time together in a way you don't when you're sitting around at home. I love having dinner at home with my husband, but there's a huge difference between eating and then quickly getting up to do the dishes and clean up as compared to just enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant. I think doing fun things together is a great way to keep your marriage enjoyable and healthy.” —Zara H., married one year
This article originally appeared on Women's Health