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A week after Valentine’s Day is a good time to ask yourself how you nurture your relationship on regular ol’ days. We can’t buy presents and chocolate all the time (as your dentist, I advise you to please not buy chocolate every day), but there are plenty of other ways to show we care. One of the best of these is to smile. It’s free, good for your relationship, and, perhaps best of all – remember again that I am a dentist – doesn’t cause cavities.

Smiling Says, “I’m Having Fun (with You)”

People in long-term relationships often feel under-appreciated. This can happen when we get so comfortable that we forget to express how much we value our significant other. Smiling at your partner, or simply smiling while around them, is an easy way to let them know that you are enjoying life and that their presence is a part of that. It’s an everyday way of saying what flowers and cards say on Valentine’s Day: you make my life better.

Smiling Releases Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness and well-being. When you smile, your body releases serotonin and other feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, which then attach to receptors in your brain. That’s a very scientific way of saying that you feel happy and relaxed. As such, you are more pleasant to be around and you allow your partner to feel happy and relaxed, rather than stressed out about what’s bothering you.

Smiling Helps You Look and Feel Young

A smile is the muscles in your face lifting your face upward. Think of this as an exercise for your face, which helps to avoid permanent wrinkles. Perhaps even more beneficial to your relationship than the fact that you will look younger is that with looking young comes feeling young. This energy and vibrance will impact your relationship as well. After a lifetime of smiling, you two might find yourselves frolicking as you did in the days when your love was brand new.

Smiling Makes You More Attractive

According to a study at Swansea University, “Faces look healthier when they are smiling, compared to a neutral expression,” and “it doesn’t matter whether the faces are male or female.” The study also indicated that the older a person is the truer these findings are.

This is important because human beings are attracted to good health. So, just by smiling you can make yourself more attractive. While physical attraction is only one component of a healthy relationship, it definitely can’t hurt to have your partner look your way and like what they see.

Smiling Helps You Make Better Decisions

As mentioned earlier, smiling lets some of the feel-good chemicals in your body run rampant. This trick can help you to stay calm in stressful situations and to make better decisions. Use it when you find yourself stressed out and at a fork in the road. Because acting out of anger can be detrimental to a relationship, and often only once we’ve calmed down do we realize what a mistake we’ve made.

Smiling is Contagious

This ties all the other benefits together. Smiling makes you feel better in many ways, and this good feeling carries over to the people around you. What better gift to give your partner every day of the year than a telepathic signal that makes them feel good? And, of course, their positivity is contagious as well. So you’re smiling at them, and they’re smiling back.

Smiling is not enough to overcome all of life’s problems, but it will make you happier around one another and it will continue to strengthen the bond which you will need to maintain in order to live a long and happy life together.