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5 Things Super-Happy Couples Do Every Day

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"Honestly, I think we just need to be dumb for a while," says Bob, 37, a shoe designer for Reebok in Boston. "We're both very into our careers. And when you're at work, with any job there's going to be a certain amount of professional stress. You like to come home sometimes and, for that lousy hour or whatever, kick back and relax."

Or as Angie, 36, a marketing executive, says, "Life is serious enough, isn't it? Sometimes you need to do something stupid. And if you can't be stupid with your husband, who can you be stupid with?

So hold on, then: Is domestic joy found in partners smothering each other in obsessive daily rituals ("Honey, don't forget, at 7:15 we have our nightly cuddle, followed by the affirmation of our vows, our 7:35 spontaneous flirtation, and then, of course, a new episode of Moesha at eight")?

Hardly. In fact, Tessina says that sleepwalking through a series of hollow routines (although probably an apt description of your day job) is worse for your marriage than having no routines at all. The solution, she says, is to also make a daily habit of getting away from each other.

"You know that old saying, 'How can I miss you if you don't go away?'" Tessina asks. "Doing things separately gives you a chance to fill in the blanks that your partner can't fill in for you, for example, one of you likes classical music, the other one likes sports. Plus, taking a break from each other gives you more things to talk about, because when you're joined at the hip, what's to talk about? You've already seen it all."

The point, naturally, is not to make space for each other in that I-can't-wait-to-get-away-from-you sort of way but to pursue your own hobbies and interests. It's a distinction that Joe tried hard to make to Lori during their delicate pre-engagement negotiations four years ago.

"As a woman, you get this message that when you get married, you spend every single waking second with your husband and you're so unbelievably happy," says Lori, 34. "And my parents actually do spend every single waking second together, and oddly enough, they are happy. So that's how I grew up thinking you were supposed to be. But when I told him this, Joe was like, 'I-don't-think-so.'"

"Because I watched my parents," says Joe, 29, whose parents divorced when he was 22, "and yeah, they spent every moment together, but they spent every moment together at each other's throats."

"So Joe had to convince me that having our own lives was a good idea," Lori explains. "I'm thankful he did."

These days Lori and Joe are practically poster children for the power of independence. Joe, who works for a nonprofit agency, spends his nights taking painting classes, building youth centers, and recording his guitar sessions. Lori, a college professor, spends hers directing community-theater musicals and indulging in trashy movies on cable television, a passion that Joe (go figure) doesn't seem to share.

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