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Health & Sex

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5 Things Super-Happy Couples Do Every Day


"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.

"It all brings a freshness to our marriage because we both continue to grow as people," Joe says.

"Plus," says Lori, "getting out of the house and out of each other's hair keeps us from going crazy."

And — we asked the experts, so we know — going crazy is definitely not one of the secrets of a happy marriage.

In another University of Chicago survey, this one of married couples, 75 percent of the Americans who pray with their spouses reported that their marriages are "very happy" (compared to 57 percent of those who don't). Those who pray together are also more likely to say they respect each other, discuss their marriage together, and — stop the presses — rate their spouses as skilled lovers.

Not to say that prayer is a cure for all that ails you (were that the case, my beloved Oakland Raiders would have won the Super Bowl years ago). But whether they're talking about a simple grace at dinnertime or some soul-searching meditation, couples routinely say that a shared spiritual life helps keep them close. And as Doug and Beth say, even couples who are on different sides of the theological fence can benefit from praying together daily.

"We have been married for seven years, but praying together is something we didn't start doing until about a year ago," says Doug, a 32-year-old Salt Lake City biochemist. "In the past, whenever we faced big decisions, we'd have discussion after discussion about them, but we'd never really come to a resolution."

After two 1,000-mile moves, the birth of three children, and two job changes, all in the past four years, those difficult decisions had begun to take a toll. So when Beth asked Doug, a nonreligious and self-proclaimed man of science, to try praying with her, he figured they had nothing to lose.

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