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Marriage researcher John Gottman found that couples in positive relationships invest an extra five hours each week in their marriages, in very specific ways. Says Gottman, “The approach works so phenomenally well that I’ve come to call it the Magic Five Hours.”

Partings. Make sure that before you say good-bye in the morning you’ve learned about one thing that is happening your partner’s life that day—from lunch with a childhood friend to an important meeting with the boss or a doctor’s appointment.

Time: 2 minutes a day x 5 working days

Total: 10 minutes

Reunions. Be sure to engage in a stress-reducing conversation at the end of each workday.

Time: 20 minutes a day x 5 working days

Total: 1 hour 40 minutes

Admiration and appreciation. Find some way every day to communicate genuine affection and appreciation toward your partner.

Time: 5 minutes a day x 7 days

Total: 35 minutes

Affection. Kiss, hold, grab, and touch each other during the time you are together. Make sure to kiss before going to sleep. Think of that kiss as a way to let go of any minor irritations that have built up over the day. Lace your kiss with forgiveness and tenderness for your partner.

Time: 5 minutes a day x 7 days

Total: 35 minutes

Weekly date. This can be a relaxing, low-pressure way to stay connected. Ask each other questions that let you update your love maps and turn toward each other. Think of questions to ask your partner like “Are you still thinking about retiling the bathroom” “Where should we take our next vacation” or “How are you feeling about your pesky coworker these days?”

Time: 2 hours once a week

Total: 2 hours

Grand Total: Five hours

PS: if you spend even more time, even better!

*Taken from Gottman, JM. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Three Rivers Press, New York.