By Nicole Yorio, REDBOOK
What makes these little gems so good? No therapy, no Big Talks, no vow renewal ceremony. Just fun things you can sprinkle into the mix to improve your relationship instantaneously.
1. The Best Two Things to Keep in Your Bedside Table: "Every couple needs a toy they can share-it practically guarantees orgasm," says REDBOOK columnist Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., an ob/gyn and a professor at Columbia University. She recommends a finger vibrator like the Ipo Finger Vibe from Picobong ($44, babeland.com) because it feels much more natural than a bulky vibrator. Hutcherson is also a big fan of lube: "Slippery sex is good sex!" she says. Proof: Women who used water or silicone-based personal lubricant reported higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction than those who didn't, according to a study from Indiana University of nearly 2,500 women.
Related: Our Best Sex Tips Ever
2. The Best Time of Day for O-mazing Sex: Everyone knows that men's libidos rise with the sun ("Good morning, Mr. Wood"), but women are also likely to have high libidos at the crack of dawn. "Our levels of energy-enhancing cortisol and desire-boosting testosterone tend to be high when we wake," says ob/gyn Rebecca Booth, M.D., author of The Venus Week. Another reason to set the alarm a little earlier? Morning sex is a natural upper, Booth says: "The high you'll get from the serotonin released can last for hours."
3. The Best Movies About Relationships: "Good movies inspire," says veteran film critic Leonard Maltin, author of Leonard Maltin's 2012 Movie Guide. He gave us his favorite smart-about-love picks and the lessons he drew from them. Rent when needed.
Annie Hall: "Things won't always go your way, but being able to laugh together will keep you strong."
Moonstruck: "Seeing another couple deal with their crazy families always makes you feel better about your own!"
The Notebook: "Love can endure any obstacle. And also, every couple needs a good cry once in a while."
Better Than Sex: "This Aussie comedy shows what men and women don't say-but ought to-before, during, and after making love."
Related: 20 Ways to Spice Up Your Next Date Night
4. The Best Lingerie: Forget confusing garters and costume-y corsets: Guys really go for that whole "slipping into something more comfortable" idea. "Every year, our top Valentine's Day sellers purchased by men are satin and lace chemises-short, sexy nighties-with matching undies," says Michael Herman, senior vice president of sales at high-end lingerie label Natori. "They just want something that's easy to get on-and off."
5. The Best Cozy Nightcap Winding down over a Heineken (him) and a pinot (you) when the kids finally sack out is fine most nights. But it's not exactly romantic. We got Kim Haasarud, our resident mommy mixologist, to whip up a recipe that is one part relaxing, two parts sultry, and 100 percent yummy. Seriously, it's like foreplay in a glass.
THE "DO NOT DISTURB"
8 oz hot water
2 oz scotch
2 oz honey
Squeeze of lemon Cinnamon sticks
Peel ginger and slice off 4 or 5 very thin pieces. Heat water and ginger in a saucepan or microwave until very hot. Add scotch and honey; stir until honey dissolves. Strain ginger, add a couple squeezes of lemon juice, divide among two glasses, garnish with cinnamon sticks, and serve.
6. The Best Shade to Paint Your Bedroom! "The biggest mistake people make when decorating their bedrooms is thinking it's the wrong place for color," says interior designer Cathy Hobbs. "But in fact, nothing sets the mood better." Her suggestion for creating an atmosphere that's equal parts seductive and soothing? "I love a rich sky blue, because it's extremely calming and adds a touch of elegance." She recommends Brave Blue (032-4), Malibu Beach (025-3), and Neptunes Home (018-5), all by Mythic Paint.
Related: 50 Weird Things He Loves About You
7. The Best Cyber Sign-Offs: A sweet email signature speaks volumes. Here's what a few love-struck readers use:
"I'm pregnant, so I always add 'kisses & kicks.'" -BREANNA WIDGER, VIA FACEBOOK
"I sign mine 'love foreve' with no 'r' on the end, because forever should have no end." -KAREN WARNER MCPHERSON, LANGLEY, BC
"The first time I signed off with a symbol, he mistook it for something sexual and replied with a sexual symbol of his own. That made for an interesting conversation when he got home! But now he gets it." -VALERIE EVERHART SCHULER, VIA FACEBOOK
"'YW,' for Your Wife. It's a discreet, kind-of-secret way to sum up what we mean to each other." -JENNIE TUNG, NEW YORK CITY
8. The Best Sexy Playlist: Robin Thicke happily acknowledges that his music is of the baby-making variety. But back when first wooing his wife, actress Paula Patton, R&B tunes from groups like Jodeci helped set the mood. So what else does the "Teach U a Lesson" singer cue up when it's time to-Barry White voice-dim the lights?
1. "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding
2 ."Love's in Need of Love Today" by Stevie Wonder
3 ."Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters
4 ."Kiss of Life" by Sade
5. "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
6. "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley
7. "I Want You" by Marvin Gaye
Related: 25 Snacks Under 150 Calories
9. The Best Mattress for Dreamy Nights: If you like a rock-solid mattress and he favors super-soft, should you compromise and get semi-firm? Sorry, we don't think so-especially when there are models that ensure you'll both wake up well-rested (and without resentment). With the Kingsdown My Side (kingsdown.com), the Sleep Number (sleepnumber.com), and the Sleep ID from Comfort Solutions (comfortsolutions.com), you each get to choose the level of firmness for your side-and neither party ends up in the guest room.
More from REDBOOK:
5 Man-Magnet, Figure-Flattering, Show-Stopping Outfits
Sex Toys That Give the Best Buzz
- 75 Most Iconic Hairstyles of All Time
- Fun, Cheap Date Ideas
- 8 Tips for Baby-Soft Skin
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.