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Chaplain's Corner: Five magic hours can build a stronger marriage bond

By Chaplain (Maj.) Steven Richardson | 673d ABW Chaplain | July 21, 2014


The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.

Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey  endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.

Most people in the lower 48 can only dream of visiting Alaska and enjoying the activities we are privileged to engage in every day.

Alaska has great hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and sightseeing adventures.
The list of things to do is seemingly endless.

Taking advantage of all these opportunities while trying to fulfill our military responsibilities, however, can leave little time for us to focus on one of life's most important relationships - our marriages.

Dr. John Gottman, a marriage therapist and author from Seattle, says every couple can improve their marriage by investing each week in what he calls the "five magic hours."

His first recommendation is for married couples to take two minutes every work day to say goodbye to one another.

Two minutes may not sound like a lot of time; in fact, it might sound trivial - until you consider that it usually takes only 30 seconds or less for an average couple to say goodbye each morning.

You can use the two minutes Gottman recommends any way you choose: talk about your plans for the day, share what you want to do that evening, even pray for one another.
If your spouse works a different schedule and is normally asleep when you go to
work, you can leave a note or call later in the day.

The idea for this simple task is to be purposeful in your communication.
Second, spend 20 minutes reconnecting with your spouse at the end of every day.
It doesn't have to be as soon as you walk in the door, but the time together should be absent of distraction and convenient for both of you.

Take the 20 minutes to talk about your day, your hopes, your dreams, your life - basically anything you want to talk about.

The important thing is to use the time to reconnect.

Third, Gottman recommends spending five minutes every day affirming and appreciating one another.

A good marriage has a culture of praise.

For example, tell your spouse how much you appreciate him or her taking out the trash, or warmly acknowledge the time and energy he or she puts in to making dinner.

Show your appreciation in words and in deeds, and take every opportunity to offer praise.
Five minutes of praise to an overworked and stressed-out individual can make a world of difference in that person's life.

You may be frustrated with your spouse or even in the middle of an argument, but establishing a culture of praise is a daily requirement.

Fourth, Gottman says we need to spend five minutes a day showing physical affection to our spouses.

Many guys tell me that they want to show five minutes of affection every day, but their wives have too many headaches.

Affection can be as simple as a hug, holding hands, or merely a hand on the shoulder or knee.

Small touches foster intimacy and strengthen marriages.

Finally, Gottman recommends spending two hours every week on a date.

That amount of time might seem unreasonable at first thought, but considering the beauty and opportunities Alaska offers, it can be easier to schedule than you might think.
Even if you have small children in the home and cannot afford a babysitter every week, you can still do date-type activities.

Put the kids to bed early then stay up late, play a game, have a conversation, take a walk around the block, whatever you both find enjoyable that helps you reconnect.

You built a relationship by spending time together; keep it strong by continuing to do the things you used to do.

Be creative. Regular date nights can be like spiritual glue to bond your hearts together.
Alaska has so much to offer families and couples in the summer months.

It might seem like there's not enough time to do everything you want to do, but strive to carve out five hours a week and you will be well on your way to building and sustaining a lasting marriage.

Doctor Gottman recommends it - and I guarantee it.