4 Secrets All The Happiest Married Couples Know

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happy couple

Did you know that the rate of infidelity in American marriage has not increased in 20 years, even though attitudes toward adultery have loosened in the past 40?

More facts, in addition to tips for success, are included in the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project's annual report. 

You can click through the project's welcome page to read the 116-page report — or just get the abbreviated version here.

RELATED: The Surprising Reason People Cheat (And Why It's Happening Now More Than Ever Before)

Our friends at The Huffington Post have thoughtfully pared the report's findings down to a few key points as an entry point into more advanced-level marital strategy:

1. Marriage is as much an economic, as an emotional partnership.

This is one area the most recent recession helped families strengthen their bonds.

Mutual belt-tightening and simple lifestyle shifts, such as more cooking and eating together at home have united families in, both, financial agreement, increased communication, and quality time.

2. It's OK to switch traditional financial responsibilities.

Generally, women tend to make the everyday purchasing decisions in a household, and men the long-term investment choices.

UVA professor Richard T. Wilcox suggests flipping the responsibilities.

Women tend to enjoy shopping more and therefore spend more, getting an emotional, as well as, practical pay-off out of the experience. A man will typically have more spending discipline when it comes to household shopping.

But, as far as investing goes men are more likely to feel overconfident and risky whereas a woman will seek outside advice from a professional, making more informed and prudent financial choices ultimately.

3. Accumulating "stuff" does not a happy relationship make.

RELATED: My Wife Is The Breadwinner In Our Family, And I Love It

Getting on the same page with your family budget is a good first step toward harmony, but if you're still harboring materialistic feelings that a "thing" like a car or house or gold-plated toilets are going to make you feel more whole you will undermine the satisfaction you can get from your loved one.

Now, don't get us wrong: It's still a hoot to watch audience members blowing their tops on Oprah's annual "Favorite Things" episode!

4. Be comfortable and confident enough to define your own roles.

The idea of the man as sole or even main breadwinner has been going the way of the Dodo for decades.

Now with a major increase in male unemployment and more women continuing to work post-childbirth, it's time to redefine our ideas of success and contribution in a working relationship.

Men can be caregivers, women can be breadwinners, and that can shift over the years as well. You get to chose how you feel about each other's contributions so why not set them and agree that they are all valued? 

Time spent together communicating, compromising, and just hanging out are a sure way to increase the return on your marriage. Lucky for us the economy is giving us just the slightest nudge to force these practices into action! 

RELATED: How To Communicate Effectively & Work As A Team In Your Relationship

Gwendolyn Bond-Upson is a freelance writer and Communications Manager at Awesome Stories who frequently contributes to YourTango. Follow her on Twitter.