The One Daily Behavior For A Long, Happy Marriage, According To Research

Here's the super simple secret to a long life and a content marriage.

empty nesters, laughing together after romantic time together Rido | Canva

Marriage never really gets easier as the years march on, but the problems you face do change down the road.

In old age, health problems in particular can seriously affect a relationship in a negative way. Stress about medical bills, dealing with your own or your partner's unhappiness or physical stress from being unhealthy, the list goes on.

But one 2014 study reveals the secret to what helps keep older couples happy: intimacy.


There's actual research that says illnesses that come with age are linked to poorer marriage quality, but no one knows the reason why yet.

According to this study, intimacy is the link that keeps partners positive about their marriages in the face of difficult times, and a lack of intimacy makes matters worse, including the health of both people in the relationship.

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The results “suggest that it may be important to stay physically connected to protect” the quality of a marriage, said lead author Adena Galinsky, a research affiliate of the University of Chicago’s Center on Demography and Economics of Aging.

University of Chicago's Center of Demography and Economics of Aging found that it's important for older couples to be intimate in order to protect their marriage quality.

The findings came from analyzing data from 732 "couple units" that included 1,464 individuals between the ages 65 and 74 years old. The results identified that frequent intimacy positively correlates to relationship quality.

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"Well-being in older age incorporates both psychological and physical wellbeing, as well as intimate wellbeing, which can occur at the intersection of those two," Amelia Karraker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said.

Older couples that initially reported averaging one intimate activity per month elevated their marriage quality after increasing the frequency of how intimate they were. 

The one hole in the research, however, is that it doesn't prove that the decrease in intimate activity also decreases marital quality. Perhaps it's that they don't know what they're missing.

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The researchers tried to understand the working qualities of marriage by asking partners to describe aspects of it as positive or negative.

For example, “emotional satisfaction” was a reason for a happy marriage, according to the participants. For the negative aspects of a marriage, both men and women listed “their partner criticizes them” as a very negative marriage quality.

Either way, it just proves that intimacy remains essential to your relationship happiness — and that's one thing that'll never get old.


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Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.