How to be happily married Tips to rebuild, repair and improve your relationship with your spouse Ever hear the sentiment that it's the small stuff that counts? Well, just ask the Love Doctor about their importance and you'll be shifting focus quicker than you can make a lane change. The real name behind the pseudonym is Dr. Terri Orbuch, a U.S.-based university professor, relationship counsellor and the woman behind a fascinating study entitled, the NIH Early Years of Marriage project. For almost a quarter of a century, Orbuch has been keeping track of 373 married pairs to determine what makes or breaks the promise, 'Til death do us part. So, what did the Love Doctor find? Seems sweating the small stuff really is where it's at, if want to be thrillingly happy with the person you're sharing bed space with, that is. "You need to sweat the small stuff in your relationship," insists Orbuch. "It's these seemingly insignificant things, 'He doesn't listen to me; He doesn't pay attention; She's nagging; I am bored ...' that matter. What the happiest couples told me is instead of focusing on the problems in the relationship and trying to fix them, they focus on bringing more positivity into the relationship." So, let's get this straight: Skip over the pesky relationship baggage altogether? Ditch the mad trend in couples therapy? Bite our tongues over a nagging issue? Well, perhaps. Orbuch suggests that by sprinkling more goodness around, couples will ultimately feel better about one another and be in a stronger position to tackle larger, peskier relationship issues head on. "After you've added positive elements and strengthened what works well, then you can talk about the bigger stuff," she says. "Affective affirmation. Making your partner feel special, valued, loved and cared for. Telling your partner 'I love you, you're special,' or that 'I would still choose you.'" And actions, they too, speak volumes. "You can turn on the coffee pot in the morning, bring in the paper, buy your partner a card and send it to them in the mail ... and it's so wonderful." You'll notice that most of Orbuch's suggestions have one thing in common - they don't cost a lot. In fact, other than a pinch of time, they're predominantly free. One surprising discovery of Orbuch's research is hearing that men actually need compliments more than women. If you're mentally jogging all of the females in your circle who've asked, 'How do I look?' or 'Do you like my hair?' and the balancing, tight-rope question, 'Does this make me look fat?' you're not alone. Still, it's hard to compete with a landmark study. "Men crave compliments," she says. "I was so surprised! It was a huge, significant difference and I immediately called my husband and told him how special he was was." While it might seems strange, but next time your guy gets ready for a night out, you might want to take notice of his shirt or how the good hair day he's having. "We have sisters, best friends, our kids, our moms, even strangers at the coffee shop, compliment us with things like, 'I love your shoes and your haircut,'" she explains. "Men rarely ever get that from the people in their networks. Men hardly ever go out with their male friends and hear, 'Man, I love your tie.'" In her book 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great (Random House), Orbuch offers advice, factual tidbits, fun questionnaires and easy-to-use tips for achieving marital bliss, with chapters from Expect Less, Get More and Give Incentives and Rewards to Have Daily Briefings, among others. Orbuch says it's time partners start prioritizing play, laughter and fun, while also reworking their idea of communication. "Most couples think they're talking to each other, but what they're really doing is maintaining a household and a family," she warns. "For 10 minutes a day, don't talk about work, the relationship, family or the household." With all of those subjects off the table, what's left to chat about? I ask her. "In order to intimately understand your partner, you need to be communicating about your goals and dreams," she explains. "Ask, 'What are you most proud of; What do you regret doing; If you could go anywhere in the world and you didn't have to think about money, where would you go?' After a few years into a relationship, you forget that these things are what allowed you to get to know your partner in the first place and to have that intimacy. That passion and excitement, that's what you do in the beginning." Powerful quickies for understanding the sexes: - According to research out of the University of Florida, men get more upset my sexual infidelity than women do. Women, however, get more upset my emotional infidelity (for instance, he has a crush on a female friend). - Men have a harder time forgiving cheating than women and are more likely to end a relationship after the discovery of a betrayal, according to a study published in Cognition and Emotion. - How powerful is a kiss? Well that all depends on your gender. Researchers from the University of Albany found that men tend to use kissing as a means to an end (think sex or making up after a fight), and women use smooching as a way of assessing the commitment level of a partner and monitoring the status of their relationship. Meanwhile men also said they'd be happy to have sex without locking lips ... a no-go for most women. - The happiest couples say the most important expectation in marriage is feeling that 'your spouse would never hurt or deceive you,' ranked first by 92% of men and 96% of women in the NIH Marriage Study. - Research shows that people in relationships have three basic needs met: The need for reassurance of self-worth; the need for intimacy and closeness, and the need for assistance.