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Go Retro: 12 Tips for a Happy Marriage

Tried-and-true strategies you can borrow from your parents' marriage to enhance your own.

Retro Relationship Tip No. 2: Put Pen to Paper continued...

Lilia Fallgatter, author of The Most Important Letter You Will Ever Write: How to Tell Loved Ones How You Feel Before It's Too Late, advocates reviving the lost art of letter-writing to increase intimacy in a relationship.

"Love letters exchanged between a couple can strengthen their relationship by helping them to connect to one another on a deeper level," she says via email. "These letters may also become treasured keepsakes that can be revisited and experienced anew each time they are read." You'll reap bonus points if you hand write it on beautiful paper and enclose a cherished memento such as a photograph or ticket stub from a movie you saw together.

Retro Relationship Tip No. 3: Sleep As Singles

It was TV censors who kept sitcom couples in separate beds, but maybe there was wisdom to catching your ZZZs in your own bed.

When one partner snores or is a night owl, tensions can mount in the marital bed, experts say. It may seem like a throwback a la Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, but many couples happily sleep in separate beds; some even maintain separate bedrooms and eliminate tossing and turning and fights over the blanket.

And many couples who are secure enough to seek satisfying slumber on their own report using the regained energy for more ... loving pursuits.

Retro Relationship Tip No. 4: Maintain Same-Sex Friends -- and Interests

Don't for Wives instructs women not to "try to regulate your husband's pleasures and don't be jealous if they don't include you."

It's only been during the past couple of decades that couples expected to share a bulk of their free time together. Retro couples didn't necessarily want to participate in each others hobbies.

Charlotte, N.C., relationship expert Kathy Stafford recommends that couples keep close ties with their same-sex friends throughout marriage. "My parents had separate interests. Dad belonged to a men's club, and Mom belonged to a ladies-only club. This gave them both time to cultivate their own interests, and they weren't totally reliant on each other for their entertainment."

Retro Relationship Tip No. 5: Look Sharp

How did June Cleaver do it? She always looked impeccable when serving dinner to Ward and the kids.

Les Parrott, PhD, and professor of psychology at Seattle Pacific University, says you can inspire romance by dressing up for the occasion. "With our hectic schedules, it's tempting to resort to sweatpants all weekend or immediately changing into a ratty T-shirt after work. Instead, dress up the next time you and your spouse have dinner or plan a night out. Wearing a beautiful dress or a button-down shirt and slacks will be unexpected and make your partner feel special that you took the extra time to look nice. Taking time with your appearance inspires romance and shows your partner you care."

Rhonda Fine, PhD, a board-certified sexologist at the MIAMI Institute, agrees. She tells WebMD via email, "Never let yourself go. Look your best as often as possible -- it will make your partner feel loved and proud."

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