When that pheromone-crazy feeling of falling in love passes and happy couples no longer spend all day in bed, they look outward. They start businesses, refinish the attic or take up cooking together.
Of all the variables in a relationship -from commitment to communication- the amount of fun couples have together is the strongest factor in determining their overall marital happiness, according to a landmark study by Howard Markman, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. Time spent playing together, says Dr. Markman, is an "investment in the relationship"; it provides a relaxed intimacy that strengthens the bond between two people.
So even if your life is impossibly frantic, make the time for play. And do all you can to eliminate distractions. Leave the kids with a sitter, ditch the beeper and cell phone. The activity doesn't have to be anything elaborate or costly. Exercising together, browsing in antiques stores, or renting a classic movie can help bring the two of you closer.