8 Rules of Long-Lasting Marriages
Marriage doesn’t come with a rulebook. But if it did, we’re sure it’d include these tips inspired by Iris Krasnow’s The Secret Lives of Wives (Gotham Books).
- It’s okay, even healthy, to have secrets. It’s your relationship, not anyone else’s, and there is no gold standard to marriage. Everyone has issues, problems and, most important, their own secrets, so don’t worry that your marriage isn’t measuring up. No one knows what’s really going on in a marriage except the two people in it. That gives each of us freedom to write our own rules and keep our own secrets.
- You don’t get it all in one place. Staying married takes bold creativity, a variety of sideline adventures. If you depend on one person in one house to sustain you until death do you part, that’s a ticket to divorce. A marriage that runs on multiple tracks makes for a happier wife who gets to have it both ways—a committed marriage and adventures in uncharted territory.
- Resurrect childhood passions. Those hobbies and sports you loved, and excelled at, as a child bring raw, primal energy and invigorate your self-esteem. Take up surfing again, become a potter, get back on a horse, go back to school. Too often, childhood hobbies get left behind as we sit on benches and watch our children race around playing fields and accrue academic kudos. Getting back out there yourself and re-engaging with the best of the old brings on a rebirth of youthful optimism and vigor.
- Hang out with outrageous girlfriends. The wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild and warm women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent. With women in their early 90s composing the fastest-growing segment of the aging population, and many marriages lasting more than 50 years, we’re going to need all the laughs and support we can get! Our girlfriends, ever-forgiving and always empathetic, provide the escape hatch from the inevitable storms that come with long marriages.
- Take separate vacations—or separate summers. You like to camp and your husband likes to golf? Spend a month in the Adirondacks while he goes with his buddies to Scottsdale, or better yet, Scotland. After some weeks apart from each other, removed from the grind of ordinary life, marriage seems way hotter than the tepid state in which you left each other. Couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.
- Indulge in best-boy-friendships. Platonic friendships are a sexy pick-me-up without the complications of adultery. Women who love the company of men shouldn’t have to eliminate male friends from their lives; these extramarital males who always think we’re smart and beautiful (because they don’t live with us) are actually a relief for any smart husband. Benign boyfriends that offer manly insights and advice mean less work for the man you are married to.
- Lower your expectations. It’s a dangerous fantasy to think marriage really means happily ever after. Expecting perfection in a marriage or mate is a fast ticket to divorce. This realization forces women in aging marriages to be urgent about creating their own purpose and passion outside of their relationships. Marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful without the other.
- Be grateful. In between wifely gallivants and self-exploration, remember to love the guy you’re with—kiss him hello and goodbye, and make time for conversation and intimacy, no matter how crammed your schedules are. Remember to thank the confident, flexible husband who allows you to have an independent and fulfilling life beyond your marriage. Don’t try to win every fight; give in, surrender and say “I’m sorry” instead of holding onto snarly anger that forms toxic wedges over time. Demonstrating ongoing vulnerability and compassion definitely makes spouses behave better. And the ability to bounce back from strife and arguments is the real secret that makes marriage last forever.
Get 5 more tips from the experts and find out why – and how – more people are choosing to stay married.
After years of rising divorce rates, the tide has shifted, and more people are choosing to stay married. We talk to author Iris Krasnow and others about what it takes to stay together for the long haul and how marriage is revered in Jewish tradition.
5 Tips of Marital Longevity
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