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Small and simple things to strengthen marriage

Think that a successful marriage is based on good chemistry and luck? Think again! Marriage is one area where the small and simple things really do matter.
Heather Hale, FamilyShare Modified: June 4, 2014 at 7:59 am •  Published: June 9, 2014

From the time we are little, we hear fairy tales, watch movies and read stories of blessed couples with perfect relationships. However, real relationships always fall short of these ideals, and many couples are left wondering what the magic formula is for a successful relationship. Is it love at first sight? How about undeniable chemistry? Maybe the key to a successful relationship is really just dumb luck?

The key to making a marriage work has very little to do with luck and everything to do with work. Before you get discouraged, though, famed relationship researcher John Gottman identified that the difference between a thriving relationship and an unhappy one is only five hours a week. He's named this time differential the "Magic Five Hours", and you can use his techniques to immediately start seeing changes in your own marriage.

Here are Dr. Gottman's suggestions of how to spend five hours each week ensuring that your marriage will succeed.

1. Partings

According to Gottman, never let your spouse leave without a six second kiss and saying "I love you." Affirming your partner before he faces the world seems like such a small thing to do each day, and Gottman acknowledges that this should only take about two minutes each day, but this one simple habit has profound effects on your relationship. By taking time away from whatever you're doing, you are showing your spouse that you care and want him to return home to you.

2. Reunions

If it's a good idea to leave your loved one on good terms, it makes equally good sense to greet her enthusiastically. The next time your spouse walks in the door, refrain from rattling off a laundry list of to-dos and complaints. Instead, take 20 minutes to kiss and debrief each other on the day. This is your golden opportunity to offer emotional support to your spouse, so make yourself available. Twenty minutes each day only adds up to one hour and forty minutes each week, and it is time well spent.

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