It all comes down to focusing on the way you say goodbye in the morning – and the way you greet each other at night. Because those brief “transitional moments” can make or break your relationship. That’s according to relationship therapist Dr. John Gottman and his new book, What Makes Love Last. So, let’s start with saying goodbye:

  • Give a positive sendoff. Dr. Gottman says that kind of sendoff can make a dramatic difference in the way you both think about your relationship while you’re apart. So, make sure you share a six-second kiss, which is long enough to feel romantic. If you give a peck on the cheek before running out the door – that sends the message that everything else in your life is more important than your relationship.

  • Vaccinate your relationship against betrayal. In his research, Dr. Gottman found that cheating is about more than turning away from your partner emotionally – it’s about a negative comparison. And if you brush your partner off with “See ya later – don’t forget to pick up some toilet paper” – that’s not intimacy. You could shout that to a roommate. And it can produce a negative comparison in your partner’s mind, where they think, “Who needs this crap? I can do better.”

Now let’s talk about what to do when you see each other again. The thing to keep in mind here is that you should greet your partner with affection. Dr. Gottman says the first few moments when you’re reunited set the tone for your time spent together – either positively or negatively. And when you greet your partner with affection, and another six-second kiss, it makes them feel valued. Beyond those transitional moments – and those kisses – Dr. Gottman says he’s found that the happiest couples devote five hours to their relationship each week.