3 Steps to Start Rekindling a Relationship

Desire is a delicate thing. Whether it's your fifth date or your fifth anniversary, it's easy to do or say something that makes that spark between you fizzle faster than uncorked champagne on a hot beach.

In fact, there can be so many passion pitfalls on the way to love, it's sometimes a wonder the planet manages to reproduce at all. But if you avoid some of the most common desire deal-breakers, you can get that lovin' feeling back on track.

1. Don't abuse this erotic organ. We're talking about your scent-sitive nose. If your breath is as pungent as day-old gym socks, whispering sweet nothings in your lover's ear is not going to produce the desired effect.

Out for a romantic meal? The best bad-breath preventive is to avoid garlic all day, not just at dinner. Almost nothing can mask garlic breath. If you can't brush and floss after a meal, drink plenty of water during it to wash away the food bits that attract bacteria. Then, munch on that parsley garnish, or have an apple for dessert. Both can naturally sweeten your breath. Here are six other foods that fight bad breath.

2. Don't be snarky. The more partners criticize each other, the more likely their relationship will fall apart, according to John Gottman, author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. Okay, so maybe your partner did miss his turn doing the laundry and you were just a teensy bit (all right, an hour) late. Bringing it up now will only push you away from each other. It's hard to feel close from a distance -- and even harder to make love.

Instead, say what pleases you about your partner. Go beyond, "You look really hot tonight" (though that's not a bad place to start). Show your gratitude: "It was so cool of you to pick this restaurant -- you know I love Italian." Happy couples make five times more positive than negative statements about each other, according to research in David Schnarck's Passionate Marriage. No wonder they have better sex, too. 

3. Don't skimp on time in the sack. So you can sleep, of course! How can desire stand a chance if you're so tired that even a little extra sleep sounds more enticing than sex? Poor sleep can lead to inflammation that threatens your arteries, hampering blood flow to all parts of your body, including those critical sexual zones.

To get the sleep you need, go easy on the alcohol, too. It can disrupt sleep patterns big-time and impede both arousal and performance. And pull the plug on all your tech toys an hour before bedtime -- yes, that means no texting, surfing, gaming, or watching TV -- so you can wind down and snooze. There's something in those flickering electronic lights that wakes up your brain.

If you get the optimal amount of sleep -- 6.5 to 7.5 hours -- you'll live longer and make your RealAge up to 3 years younger. Think about that -- 3 extra years to do whatever your heart -- and your lover's -- desires. Now that's a turn-on!

Trouble sleeping? Take this Sleep Health Assessment to find out why.

Relationships and Family

Relationships and Family

Relationships and family are at the center of human life, and they can have a huge influence on your health. Having good friendships and family support eases stress, helps you avoid mental illness, and gives you energy and courage ...

for living a healthier life. Relationships start when you give someone else your time and attention. If you find yourself isolated, the best thing to do is reach out through community activities or family connections. Finding ways to help others will make you feel better, and then pay off later when you need support. Good health means caring for yourself, which is infinitely easier to do when other people are also caring for you. If your relationships are in trouble, take steps to resolve the conflict through communication or seeking counseling. The payoff is greater well-being for all involved.