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Secrets to a long and happy marriage

Thursday, January 26, 2012
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Some might say a long celebrity marriage is one that endures the duration of the newly betrothed's trip down the aisle.

But some couples have been together for 50, 60 years and say they're still as much in love as they were the day they spoke their "I dos." What do they know that others do not?

According to clinical psychologist and relationship guru Dr. Phil McGraw, "We all need to be flexible and to compromise in marriage, but you've got to be true to your core traits and characteristics, what I call your authentic self." Some couples enter a relationship projecting a persona they believe the other person wants -- a woman trying to fill the role of her husband's nurturing mom or a guy playing the protector to his wife. In reality, marriage is more of a partnership, and truth and trust are often at the basis of good marriages.

There's no such thing as the perfect marriage. Some couples create an image of what they think marriage is supposed to be, and that image that often goes "poof" once reality sets in. Even soulmates are bound to frustrate or irritate one another from time to time.

Couples should express their frustrations. Bottling up frustrations can eat at a person and eventually destroy a marriage. Talking about the things that are bothering you with your partner opens up a discussion and can help you work through things.

Divorce should not be seen as a viable option. Couples who want to bail on the marriage at every turn could be directing their energy toward divorce as the only solution instead of discovering ways to remove the cause of strife. Experts say that there are a few issues, like adultery, abuse and drug/alcohol addiction, that may be reasonable catalysts for divorce if personal safety and sanity are being compromised.

Make time for romance . Too often married couples forget what it was like to date when all of their attention was spent on each other instead of the house, kids, work, etc. Happy couples find the time to spend quality time with their spouses -- even if that's only 10 minutes of alone time a day.

Put "we" first. When you're part of a couple, give more to your spouse than you take. If he or she is doing the same, you're working collectively for the benefit of the marriage instead of yourselves.

Respect each other. Often couples having troubles realize they treat strangers better than they treat each other. Good marriages are based on a foundation of respect and love. It's easy to lose feelings of love if the respect is gone.

 
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