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Making Marriage Matter

Marriage is more than just a ring on your finger -- it’s a bond between two people that should grow over time and add value to your life. Experts share with WebMD the benefits of marriage.

Starting to Build a Better Marriage continued...

Whether you have a solid relationship that has been built on compromise and self-sacrifice or you're in a troubled relationship that's damaged by ongoing disagreements and disappointment, he says the trick is to know yourself so you can better understand how you fit as a partner.

The way for a married couple to begin moving their relationship to a better place starts with some obvious, but important, steps, O'Connell says. Although these rules seem straightforward, they're crucial for improving intimacy.

  • Recognize and respect your differences.
  • Talk to each other.
  • Be respectful.
  • Reinforce the positives and minimize the negatives.
  • Don't blame.
  • Be honest with each other.
  • See things from each other person's perspective.
  • Don't judge.

Toward a More Meaningful Marriage

These tips are just a start, however. Once you've built a relationship in which getting along is par for the course, and you've come to middle ground on your major matrimonial issues, building a strong sense of intimacy allows you both to reap the benefits of marriage.

Here are ways to better understand your partner and make your marriage really matter:

Embrace a longer-lasting definition of love. O'Connell explains that love is more than just short-term and in the moment. Focus on what your marriage and your love for your partner mean over the long haul and how your life is better because of your spouse.

Celebrate your differences."Challenge the notion that people get bored with each other because they get used to each other," O'Connell says. "Instead, recognize that people are infinitely complex and always changing."

Recognize the gift of time. Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give someone, most importantly your spouse and your family, says Berman, author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Kids. For your spouse, make sure you have least 20 minutes of time a day to commit to the relationship, and that's the bare minimum. Focus on each other, with no TV and no computers, and use the time to be intimate and connect.

Have real sex. There are ways that people can stay alive in their bodies by having an ongoing sexual relationship with their spouse as they get older, O'Connell says. Embrace your sexuality as you age and explore ways to keep the spark alive as your marriage evolves.

Strike a strong balance "There are lots of conflicts in marriage," Berman says. "You both have to handle them in a way that's productive and that helps you grow." Berman recommends striking the right balance between positive and negative interactions -- a good rule of thumb is that this balance has to be 4 to 1 for a marriage to work, a theory on relationships put forward by psychologist John Gottman, PhD.

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