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The 21-Minute Secret to a Happier Marriage

By Elise Solé, Shine Staff


ThinkStockIn the time it takes to shower, get a manicure, or run to the post office, you could have a happier marriage. According to the results of an upcoming study in the journal Psychological Science, just three seven-minute writing exercises over a one-year period could drastically improve your bond.

The two-year study included 120 married couples, ranging from 20-somethings to 70-somethings who had on average been married for 11 years. During  the first year, the couples were asked to sit down every four months and write about their biggest recent conflict such as tiffs about cleaning or sex-related gripes. For the second year, the researchers switched things up: They had one group of couples continue recording their conflicts and a second group write them from the perspective of a third party who wanted the best for them, such as a mutual friend. That way, the couples couldn’t write things like, “It made me so angry when he was late” but rather “Chris was two hours late coming home.” The results were surprising: Although the second group’s arguments were just as frequent and severe as the first group’s, the couples who wrote from a neutral perspective felt less angry toward their partners, experienced more sexual attraction for each other, and their happiness levels stabilized rather than declined.

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The 21-Minute Secret to a Happier Marriage  was originally published on