First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes decades of time together strewn with a minefield of potential relationship wreckers. It's a wonder that anyone ends up walking off into the sunset, hand-in-wrinkled-hand, with a silver-haired mate. What do those geriatric lovebirds know that you don't?
Well, the truth is that even in so-called happy marriages, both partners probably fantasize some of the time -- or even much of the time -- about throwing in the towel.
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A new Woman's Day and AOL Living poll found that a shocking 72 percent of women surveyed have considered leaving their husbands at some point. But despite the occasional rocky patch, 71 percent expected to be with their husbands for the rest of their lives. So how do you make it to the finish line with your relationship intact?
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. Here's how to have a healthy relationship every step of the way.
1. 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.
A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that your chances of becoming obese increase by 37 percent if your spouse becomes obese. So unless you want "till death do us part" to include chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes, it's important to establish healthy eating habits early on.
But warding off weight gain isn't as simple as whipping up a healthy meal together. Eating with anyone -- from your spouse to coworker -- can cause you to consume 33 percent more than you would solo.
Being aware of the potential fatty pitfalls of marital bliss may be enough to keep your portion sizes in check. Spend couple time checking out local farmers' markets on the weekends in an effort to consumer fresher, low-calorie fare. Or schedule an exercise date to work off some of your hearty, homemade dinners.
2. 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.
Don't fret if you're a spendthrift and your partner pinches pennies.
"It's probably not a good thing to have the exact same philosophy about money, " says Ken Robbins, M.D., a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. "But financial issues are best to resolve early on. You want to decide who is going to pay the bills, how much discretionary spending is reasonable, and how you're going to keep track of it all."
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3. Figure out your family rules