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Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Not your parents’ relationship: The keys to a good marriage are different now

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Nock also says people have to ask themselves what is going to keep them together when the love fades. The short answer is anything that would be lost to both parties if you split up.

Happy marriage tip: Married sex is better

"If my wife and I split up, I get to keep my own earnings, investments, assets, and toys. And the same is true for her," Nock says. But some things don't fit that category. "I don't know how you quantify that reaction when you and your wife see your child take her first step," Nock says. That is worth something and cannot happen without both partners. And there are countless things like that involving children."

But what if you don't have children? Well, the chances are you have more sex, and, according to Nock, it is still the case that marital sex is better than extramarital sex. "Most research suggests," Nock says, "that couples figure out how to please each other better than strangers do."

Marriage and tradition ― They belong together

It also turns out there is a reason we put stock in anniversaries. Divorces are much more common in the front end of marriage, and the longer you stay married, the less likely it is you will get divorced. When that happens, there are other intangibles at risk.

"After a divorce, lots of couples and kids complain about the loss of traditions," says Nock. "What are we supposed to do on Easter or Passover?" The fact is, we need traditions ― starting with marriage itself.

"People don't think it matters when you stand up and make these public vows," says Nock. "My students don't get it. It may seem like flimsy glue, but it's better than never making those statements ― those pledges of fidelity, of help, and support."

Scenes from a happy marriage: Dating

There are plenty of reasons why you should stay married. You will live longer, earn more, and be a more social and altruistic member of society than your single counterpart. The question remains, in the hassle-free no-fault divorce world, how do you stay married ― happily, that is? Terry Real, a Boston-based marriage and family therapist and author of The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, suggests you try dating your wife.

"It's good for your children to see you go off for the weekend and leave them at home," says Real. "It's good for them to see you going off on Friday night because it's date night, even if it's just jeans and a pizza and a movie. It's a tremendous inoculation against marriage failure down the pike to put a little time and energy into marriage all the way through."

A happy marriage requires more maintenance than your car

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