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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.

Toward a More Meaningful Marriage continued...

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.

Find liberation through commitment. "Commitment involves giving up something, but you need to recognize it also means getting something in return when you are married," O'Connell says. Focus less on what you don't have and more on what marriage brings to your life.

Forgive and give thanks. "Think of the recurring things that happen in marriages that are problems as opportunities," O'Connell says. "Use your issues as opportunities to address your challenges together and move forward as one."

Have fun. "Two very important components of an intimate marriage are companionship and friendship," Berman says. And having fun is a key element for both.

"And, particularly relevant to us graying baby boomers, these steps will help us to forge relationships in which we can make the time of growing older one of expanding, rather than diminishing, a possibility," O'Connell says.

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Reviewed on August 26, 2008

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