7 ways to stay (hopelessly) in love with your spouse

Creative sex, doing the dishes and watching your words can go a long way towards a lifetime of wedded bliss.

7 ways to stay (hopelessly) in love with your spouse

Take heart: A recent study found that a surprising number of people are still very much in love with their partners after 20 years of marriage. In fact, brain scans of people in happy long-term relationships show the same activation in areas associated with reward, motivation and “wanting” as those experiencing new love.

Even better, long-term romantic love (unlike new love) stimulates regions of the brain that quell anxiety and pain. This suggests that well-worn romantic love offers a unique combination of benefits: happiness—plus a sense of calmness.

Here’s what science tells us are the secrets to living happily ever after:

1. Be 5 times nicer than you are nasty

For every unhappy exchange, we need at least five happy ones to nourish love, says relationship expert John Gottman, Ph.D. According to his research, relationships are stable and happy when the ratio of positive to negative interactions is at least 5:1. Notice that this so-called “Magic Ratio” does allow for negative interactions, which Gottman says are necessary for partners to move past conflict.


The takeaway:

Make sure you have 5 happy exchanges for every 1 bad one.

2. Do your share of the dishes

Sharing household chores is surprisingly important for a successful marriage—the only factors that ranked higher in Pew Research Center surveys from both 2007 and 1990 were fidelity and a happy sexual relationship. That said, even among couples that do split the workload, chores tend to fall to one partner more than the other (in heterosexual relationships, usually the woman).

The takeaway:

Simply saying “thank you” can help to limit your partner’s resentment and ensure their relationship satisfaction, according to research from Arizona State University.

3. Watch your words

Most of us know that communication is key to a successful relationship—even if we’re not so good at it. One trick: Use more “couple-focused” pronouns, like “we,” “our” and “us” when you’re having a conflict with your significant other. One study published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that these words helped partners get through disagreements with more affection, less anger and lower stress, while pronouns like “I,” “you” and “me” increased marital dissatisfaction.

The takeaway:

There is no “I” in team.

4. Go on an adventure

If your routine feels more like a rut—the same old restaurants, the same old TV shows—it’s time to mix things up and have some fun. Couples that play together stay together, according to Stony Brook University researcher Arthur Aron, Ph.D. His studies show that participating in new and exciting activities as a couple increases relationship quality.

That’s because being able to experience what he calls “self-expansion” alongside your partner makes the relationship more fulfilling and helps to stave off the boredom and staleness that contribute to so many breakups.

The takeaway:

The next time you’re about to go to the movies for the hundredth time, why not opt for some live music or a stroll around an unfamiliar neighborhood instead?

5. Don’t break up with your friends

Think back to the last time you needed advice about your career or a conflict with someone. How many people did you talk to? Between 1985 and 2004, the number of people relying solely on their spouse to discuss important matters doubled. And while this may seem like a positive trend, too much togetherness can actually be harmful because it puts too much of a burden on the relationship, says Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College and author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.

The takeaway:

Pursuing friendships, support and interests outside your twosome will actually help keep you together.

6. Do the standing tiger / crouching dragon

There’s plenty of research showing that sexual satisfaction promotes marital stability and decreases the likelihood of divorce. Although it probably wouldn’t hurt, this doesn’t mean you have to have more sex: A 2011 study found that more experimentation (think: new positions and locations), more talking about sex and more “making out” increases sexual satisfaction—for both men and women.

The takeaway:

Get creative in the bedroom.

7. Pay attention!

Remember your ex who always called your best friend Margaret instead of Miranda, or who always suggested Thai food despite your peanut allergy? Then you know how hurtful this obliviousness can feel—and how damaging it can be to a relationship. Start paying more attention to things that matter to your partner: the names of their colleagues and cousins, your anniversary date and their food preferences, for example. Partners that remember these types of details about each other tend to be highly satisfied in their relationships, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy.

The takeaway:

Remember the little things.

For more science-based activities to boost your happiness in your relationships, check out Happify’s 4-week track, “Feel More Fulfilled in Your Relationship”!

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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