A good marriage takes talk, and talk takes time. If you need convincing, a television report just confirmed it: couples that communicate with each other at least 30 minutes a day are happier. Every couple forms its own habits, of course, but here are the “coming together” habits that work for us. “Communicate” is a useful word, but my husband and I use the Latin communicare—meaning literally to come together because that’s what we’re learning to do in our conversation, our candor, and our marriage.

The morning vow
So besides hygiene and exercise, at our house, our prime early hours include our vows. Out loud. My husband vows to love me “as Christ loved the church,” and I vow to “love, cherish, honor, and respect” him.  Successful people allot chunks of those hours to what they love.

nightly check-in
This is wisdom straight up. The sage continues, “If either falls, the one will lift up his companion.” Having a night conversation with your partner was good. Tell each other’s problem and the things they don’t want.

 Affirm
This part of communicare may prompt the other to say, “I need to hear ‘I love you,’ or ‘I appreciate all you did today.'” Turns out neither of us reads minds; but if one partner can voice exactly what’s needed, the other can respond. Check.

 Pray.
Less than 1 percent of the couples that pray together daily will divorce, a stat says. Amen to that. Sometimes my husband prays out loud, sometimes I do. We thank God for the day, for doors that opened (or shut), for people, for our sacred relationships with Him and with each other.

Whatever language you and your spouse use, the point is, as every mother tells her two year old, to “use your words.” No day is problem-free, no marriage will be. But face time and talk, early and often, is the kind of all-year-long ritual that keeps the Valentine factor fresh.