There’s no way around it: A happy relationship takes hard work. And in his new book The All-or-Nothing Marriage ($28, amazon.com), psychologist Eli Finkel tells you what you can do to make yours flourish. But if you don’t have the time (or energy) to do any heavy lifting right now, there are a few shortcuts that can help improve things instantly. Finkel, who has studied thousands of couples, calls these quick fixes “lovehacks.” They take little time and don’t require any cooperation from your S.O., yet they can make a big difference. “Lovehacking involves a deliberate effort to see the beautiful underneath the anger and disappointment and boredom,” Finkel writes in the book, “to look with (appreciative) new eyes.” Here are five of his tips to try.
Rethink the blame game
When your partner (inevitably) slips up, there are multiple ways you can think about it, says Finkel. Let’s say he forgot about dinner plans. Considering his mistake a sign of his inherent selfishness—or wrongfully assuming he did it to spite you—is likely to lead to unnecessary conflict and antagonism. Instead, consider all the possible explanations for the mistake: Maybe he forgot because he’s been particularly busy at work, or because he’s stressed about his father’s illness.
As long as you’re convinced your partner is a good person, Finkel suggests adopting this if/then strategy: “If I start feeling frustrated or angry about something my spouse did (or didn’t do), then I will take a few seconds to consider other explanations for his or her behavior.”