habits of happy couples

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They Think Small
Grand gestures? Terrific. But the small stuff really makes the heart do a little dance of joy: the cup of coffee waiting in the kitchen when you roll out of bed, the hamper of laundry your partner has washed and folded even though it's really your turn, the out-of-left-field compliment. The most blissful couples tend to be the most generous with one another in tiny ways, a 2011 study by the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project found. Of more than 1,400 pairs, those who freely did unasked tasks and showed unprompted affection were nearly three times as likely to be very happy as those who didn't. "These are acts that are above and beyond what's normally expected. ... The husband or wife notices there's a need and jumps in to fill it, or is trying to signal to their spouse that they love them by doing something that their spouse will enjoy," says W. Bradford Wilcox, the project's director.