It’s a challenge to have a happy marriage. Marriage satisfaction can suffer a slow and inevitable decline over time. Couples therapy is one method that can prevent this.

One research study holds promise for an alternative to couples therapy, a no-cost alternative, that prevents the decline in marital satisfaction and keeps a happy marriage alive. The alternative is not only free; it just takes 21 minutes a year.

A study had 120 married couples fill out a marital survey every four months over the course of two years. All couples showed the typical decline over the first year, but a writing assignment added to half the couples in the second year managed to keep their satisfaction stable.

The writing assignment asked couples to take seven minutes, three times a year to evaluate a recent disagreement they’d had with their partner. Partners were instructed to step back and look at their disagreement from an objective view point, considering each person’s best interests. They were also asked to pinpoint barriers to resolving the problem and ways to rise above the issue. And they were instructed to take into account how rising above the issue might help their relationship.



Both this writing assignment and Emotionally Focussed Therapy teach couples a similar process:

  • slow down
  • give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • identify the blocks to resolution
  • focus on addressing the block (rather than the issue)
  • consider the value of the relationship
    Read the full article here: How to Have a Happy Marriage in 21 Minutes