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10 Top Tactics to Keep a Marriage
Strong or Help Make It Strong Again

The U.S. divorce rate -- 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people -- is at its lowest point since 1970. Although marriage rates are down also, clearly married couples are increasingly taking the attitude that they're in it for the long haul, and are taking the steps necessary to keep their relationship strong.

doing nice things for your spouse

Doing nice things for each other on a regular basis will keep your marriage positive.

That is not to say that there aren't problems. Most married couples do argue (often about money, sex, work, children and housework), and although a recent study in the Journal of Family Communication found that couples who express their anger live longer than those who suppress it, too much arguing can damage a relationship beyond repair.

Happy couples, the ones that endure and remain heartily committed through good times and bad, often make a commitment to staying that way, and you can too, with the help of these 10 marriage tips.

  1. Show affection regularly. Whether it's a kiss on the cheek, a touch on the arm in passing, or a hearty "thank you," happy couples are not shy about showing affection.

  2. Keep arguments respectful. When you argue, stick to the issue at hand and avoid making personal attacks. Arguments that are kept fair can be constructive, but if you veer off into the land of mean comments and personal attacks, you'll likely never reach a compromise, much less a solution.

  3. Communicate. Along with arguing respectfully, it's important to communicate respectfully. By sharing your thoughts, concerns and ideas regularly, you create an open environment of trust and intimacy.

  4. Be nice to your spouse. Studies show that for every negative thing that happens, it takes five positive things to balance it out. Happy couples go out of their way to do nice things for their partner on a regular basis, which will keep the overall marriage positive, rather than negative. Little things do make a big difference.

  5. Choose your battles. There are likely numerous little things that you COULD argue about in a day (heat settings, TV volume, snoring, etc., etc.), but some issues are simply not solvable, nor are they worth getting upset over. Save the arguments for the big stuff, and simply learn to live with the rest of it. You'll both be happier in the long run.

happily married couple

Remember to take the time to go out on "dates" like you did when you first met.

  1. Do fun things together. When a couple first meets, they instinctively prioritize their relationship and do all types of new, exciting activities together. Years later, after kids and other obligations enter the mix, it's up to you to make time to do things together. Keeping time just for the two of you, to do something you both enjoy, will keep things feeling fresh.

  2. Laugh together. Everything does not have to be about paying bills and picking the kids up at soccer practice. Make an effort to find some humor -- especially if things are tense -- to keep things positive.

  3. Show your respect. Strong marriages are built on mutual respect. This means sticking up for your partner, supporting them, and never badmouthing them to your kids or in-laws.

  4. Do things YOUR way. Here "your" refers to you and your spouse. It's important that together you establish your own traditions, daily rituals and methods for raising your children, taking care of finances, etc. If there is a meddling in-law, sibling or friend who is allowed to interfere, it will undermine the idea of YOUR marriage.

  5. Be empathetic. Make an effort to understand your spouse, hear their concerns, and share their excitement. Studies have found that people who have empathetic personalities are more likely to report being satisfied in their long-term relationships. These people are also better able to show compassion and to see things from their partner's perspective -- both keys to a satisfying marriage.

Recommended Reading

Married Men Really are Healthier & Respond Better to Certain Treatments

The Six Different Reasons that Men and Women Cheat on Each Other


National Center for Health Statistics

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