Experts Reveal The Key To Keeping A Happy Marriage Happy (It's Not Sex)

It's easy to fall in love, but staying in love takes work.

Happy and strong marriage Jenny Uhling | Canva

So many couples fixate on mending what's broken between them. But what happens when you're marriage is already great? You've truly found your soul mate. And all of those smiles in your Instagram "couple selfies" are the real deal. Perhaps you still even get those first-date tingles when you see your partner walk through the door at the end of the day. Congratulations on finding true love and creating a relationship that actually works! Now ... how do you make sure it stays that way? Any couple married for more than five minutes will tell you that a successful union takes more than just saying "I do" and putting on a ring. Even the most compatible of couples face trying times and want to make it through those challenges united on the other side.


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A Pew Research study on marriage found that 84 percent of people believe a successful marriage is the most important (or one of the most important) goal to achieve in life. So how can you actively preserve the strength of your relationship, even if it's already pretty awesome? Former Senior VP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman asks this very question. Weighing in were psychologist Dr. Stan Tatkin; premarital, marital, and infidelity recovery counselor Jim Walkup; couple therapist and author Colene Sawyer Schlaepfer; and relational recovery therapist Argie Spuck


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The experts agree that successful, lasting relationships don't happen by accident. The experts explored how to keep a happy relationship strong from several angles. These include things like couples trying to find the real reasons they partnered up with each other in the first place. How important it is to stay connected and set shared goals for your relationship. The importance of working as a team and making explicit agreements. And, to always make the most of separations and reunions as a couple, as absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. All of these things are essential to sustained relationship happiness.

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The best advice from the group boiled down to one required step: To protect the health of your happy partnership both partners must make it a top priority. Yes, there are positive action steps to take, important conversations to have, and new experiences to share. But, these approaches alone won't keep you connected if you start taking your partner for granted and set your healthy relationship on auto-pilot. When our marriage feels safe and secure, it's easy to forget how fragile partnerships are and start focusing our limited attention elsewhere. But all relationships need nurturing, even happy ones. Sure, a tree can grow in a drought climate, but over time, it will become spindly and stunted. The same thing happens in marriages. Tending to and connecting with your partner daily is essential to sustaining your already thriving relationship. The adventure of staying in love can be even more thrilling and rewarding than falling in love. 

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Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, is a clinician, teacher, and developer of A Psychological Approach To Couples Therapy(PACT). He specializes in working with couples and individuals who wish to be in relationships. Dr. Jim Walkup helps couples build their relationship to last a lifetime and has been a marriage counselor for 40 years. Colene Sawyer Schlaepfer, MFT, Ph.D., has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 40 years and is the author of Fishing by Moonlight, The Art of Enhancing Intimate Relationships. Melanie Gorman is the former Senior VP of YourTango Experts. Argie Spuck is a counselor and therapist with over 17 years of experience who helps her clients create the relationship of their dreams.