My husband and I recently completed our six-year wedding anniversary, says Shirley Mehta*, a Mumbai-based publicist. He was stuck in Dubai because he was away on a work assignment when the lockdown began, and finally got home a few days before our anniversary. I wasnt expecting him back given the pandemic, and I thought it would be safer if he stayed where he was, but he wanted to be with me and decided to surprise me. To celebrate, I prepared all his favourite dishes as a way to show him how much I appreciated sharing our special day together, says Mehta. Theres no denying that one of the most important ways to sustain a healthy and loving relationship is open and honest communication, but more importantly, appreciating the little things you do for one another.According to a study published in the peer-review journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, Couples who were able to show each other small signs of affection during a disagreementsuch as holding hands, or reaching out to comfort one anothersaw a positive impact on their stress levels in the long term.Now, while mutual respect is an unspoken rule when it comes to enjoying a successful and loving relationship, what are some of the other gestures that can help build a strong foundation and make a real difference?Here are five rules to follow to help strengthen your bond with your partner:Express YourselfThe fact that you and your SO love each other is a given, but dont take this unspoken truth for granted. Besides, it doesnt hurt to say it every now and then. More importantly, wheyou feel the urge to say it, you should just say it. Its an effective and romantic way to remind your partner that you appreciate and love them.Say Thank YouPlease and thank you are things weve been taught to say since we were young. However, in a relationship, most people come to expect small gestures from their partners, and some tend to take these little things for granted. However, saying a simple thank you shows your SO that you dont under value their presence in your life. Whether its picking up his favourite ice cream, or getting his clothes from the drycleaners, my husband always says thank you and it makes me want to do these things for him more and more. Likewise, when he washes a few dishes that Ive left to clean up later, I never fail to show my gratitude. It makes our time together that much more special, says Mehta.Pay Each Other ComplimentsAdmit it, you like being noticed and love it when your partner admires that new shirt or haircut. Which is why, you should make it a point to pay your partner a genuine compliment. Whether its for a meal they cooked, a new outfit theyve bought, or a bad habit theyve been trying to break, being appreciative can have its rewards.Watch A Rom-comWatching a romantic film together is a simple, but effective way to spend quality time, and show each other affection. However, it pays to watch something new. My boyfriend hates chick flicks, but hes known to indulge me on occasion, because I let him pick the movies we watch most times, says Kriti Mulchandani*, a Gurgaon-based design student.Be Silly TogetherWas the unconventional saying goes, A couple that laughs together, stays together. And why not? The best time to make a fool of yourself is with your partner when youre both in your comfort zones. After all, laughter can lighten the mood, cut the tension, and remind you about why youre with your partner in the first place. My fiance has to ability to make any stressful situation seem like a piece of cake just by cracking one of her famous PJs or singing a stupid song about the predicament. I cannot imagine getting through a problem without that, says Mohit Shah, a banker from Ahmedabad.Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.