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Relationship maintenance tips for long-haul couples

Jun 18, 2012, 6 a.m.

"Happily ever after": All couples aspire to going the distance and growing old together, but nearly half all marriages end in divorce, well short of that idealistic goal. Still, there are those husband and wife duos that are still holding hands and still enjoying life together, well into their third or fourth or fifth decade. What are their secrets? What healthy relationship tips can the rest of us -- of any age -- learn from these solid couples? Below are just a few of their tips:

  1. Take stock of your relationship periodically. Every relationship needs occasional maintenance. Only in fairy tales do couples live blissfully together with little or no effort. Any long-term couple will tell you that marriage takes work. Part of that work is identifying potential problems before they blossom into fully-developed resentments. Do this by scheduling time every few months to take stock of your relationship and make any necessary adjustments. Just knowing that the other person is willing to make this effort will go a long way to easing any tensions.
  2. Do things together. This may sound obvious, but in today's over scheduled world, even retired couples can find themselves with too many obligations. Even if it means saying no occasionally to your friends, church or grandchildren, it's important to spend couple time and keep creating those shared memories.
  3. Have fun. Fun can also be a casualty of aging and of too many commitments outside of your relationship. Don't let obligations, family needs and business functions rob your relationship of fun. Even if it's just a few minutes every morning to enjoy coffee together, make sure that you make time for some fun.

There's no guarantee or magic formula for a long-term marriage or committed relationship. However, you'll lengthen your odds of growing old together if both parties are willing to invest time and energy in your future. May you have many happy anniversaries.

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