CNN had a great article on marriage last month. They said, “When it comes to marriage, each decade will have its own drama, be it child-rearing, layoffs, second careers, and middle-aged angst, along with a big helping of the in-sickness-and-in-health stuff.” Then they finish the article with 9 really good points to making your marriage last. Here they are in a nutshell…
- WATCH YOUR WAISTLINE: Now that you’re married, you can finally relax and skip the gym, right? Wrong. Wedded couples tend to have fatter waistlines, which can spell trouble in terms of sexual attraction and general health.
- HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN: Nearly 40 percent of married people admit to lying to their spouse about a purchase, according to a 2004 poll, and money woes can quickly send your marriage south. In fact, money is the number-one reason couples fight, and relationships tend to suffer during poor economies. You should discuss and agree upon some hard financial ground rules, preferably before you tie the knot.
- FIGURE OUT YOUR FAMILY RULES: Couples spend the first 5 to 10 years of their marriage butting heads over how their family should work. You can end up fighting over something as trivial as how you should hang your toilet paper, but those little issues can add up to big problems, particularly if children enter the picture.
- MAKE SEX A PRIORITY, BUT NOT A CHORE – It doesn’t matter whether you’re having sex five times a week or five times a year — as long as both of you are happy, says Dr. Goldstein. In fact, a 2008 study found that couples who reported any kind of marital intimacy — everything from holding hands to sex — exhibited lower levels of a hormone produced by stress.
- BE FLEXIBLE – Whatever financial and household arrangements you agreed to in your 20s or 30s, chances are they’re going to change at some point in your marriage.
- STAY ACTIVE AS YOU AGE – A 1995 study found that couples who work out together are more likely to stick with an exercise program. And some experts suggest that couples who exercise more frequently tend to have better sex lives.
- HAVE A FRIEND TO SHARE WITH – It’s often helpful to couple friends when these big issues come up,” says Dr. Robbins. “Many couples live very privately and discuss these issues with the shades down, but relationship issues like this can often benefit from hearing how people that you trust dealt with a similar situation. But, clearly it’s never a good idea to say anything — even to a close friend — that you wouldn’t want repeated back to your spouse in five years,” warns Dr. Goldstein.
- REDISCOVER ONE ANOTHER WHEN THE KIDS ARE GONE – Use this new found freedom to bend the rules a bit and rediscover what you love about each other.
- BE A GOOD CAREGIVER – In the event of a serious illness, spouses who assume the role of caregiver often develop a sense of “caregiver burden” and may become ill themselves. So it’s vital that both spouses ask for help when they need it. Getting out to see friends and socialize is particularly important for caregivers. And realize that you both have limitations.