When it comes to getting your love life in shape, what does exercising with your significant other have to do with it? As it turns out, there’s a lot…

John Gottman, Ph.D., offers seven principles for couples to follow on the road to “happily ever after.” Check these out and see how making a steady habit of gym dates will not only help you stick to your fitness program (94% of couples who work out together do), but also help you stick with—and enjoy—your relationship, too.

1. Enhance your love map. 
Couples who are successful at keeping their love going strong are intimately familiar with each other’s world. Gottman defines a “love map” as a compilation of all of the information you have about your partner, and having a vested interest in continuining to get to know them. Going to the gym together can be important quality time together while taking interest in one another’s goals and wellbeing.

2. Nurture fondness and admiration.
Be sure you remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities and express your fondness and admiration. This happens naturally when couples work out together,  celebrating each other’s successes, high-fiving, motivating and encouraging each other. Touching while stretching, saying “thank-you” for racking weights, giving the other a towel or a water bottle after a hard run are all actions that demonstrate fondness and admiration.

3. Turn toward each other.
The basis of romantic connection is turning toward your partner when he or she has made a bid for your affection. It builds connection, passion and a good sex life. Incorporating fun partner-exercises into your workouts is a great way to help strengthen this connection.

4Let your partner influence you.
Letting your partner influence you is all about sharing power and decision-making. Avoid judging the type of workout and intensity your mate enjoys. Unless you are asked for advice, don’t turn your workout date into a string of criticisms. Set mutual goals, discuss your own weaknesses and ask your partner for their input. 

5. Solve your solvable problems.
Couples that avoid criticism and defensiveness, that understand how to deescalate tension, that can soothe themselves and each other and that know how to compromise, will surely keep their love going strong. Sweating it out with each other naturally reduces stress and tension as exercise has physical and emotional benefits that leave couples in greater harmony with each other. The endorphins that result from exercise do wonders to help people think clearly and increase personal happiness. Develop trust with each other simply by serving as each other’s spotter. Knowing your partner is there to assist can aid in communication and trust building.

6. Create shared meaning.
When couples create shared meaning based on rituals, culture, purpose and values, conflicts, perpetual problems and gridlock are far less likely to occur. What’s the mutual value that you and your partner place on fitness, exercise, health and happiness?