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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. 10: Hold Hands

Back in our parents' time, hand-holding and discreet pecks on the cheek were the tasteful, chaste displays of affection.

Although anything goes these days, Morley-Ball encourages couples to simply hold hands in public. "[It] affirms to everyone your undying affection and love for each other. [It] shows everyone that you are proud to be with each other and you want everyone to know it."

Tessina echoes this sweet sentiment. "There's an actual electrical connection that passes between us when we touch. You can use that electrical connection to provide juice in your marriage. Give each other little pats and gentle touches and hold hands frequently when you're walking or driving and you'll keep the energy -- and the sweetness -- flowing between you."

Retro Relationship Tip No. 11: Cut Back on Complaints

Yesteryear's couples had a comic reputation for nagging -- think of The Dick Van Dyke Show -- yet, in truth, many partners often held their tongues.

Real thinks a stumbling block in modern marriages is a constant soundtrack of discord. "Our generation thinks that closeness comes from sharing everything, letting each other know how miserable you are. But it doesn't motivate me to treat you better."

He says that relaying every annoyance is a bad idea. Instead, he recommends you pick your battles. "Not everything needs to be addressed."

Retro Relationship Tip No. 12: Try Thoughtful Little Acts

Back in the day, with fewer stresses, limited technology and less multitasking, couples were more "present" in their relationships.

"The presence of little, daily thoughtful acts showed caring and appreciation for one another," says licensed clinical social worker Toni Coleman. "Things like making breakfast for your spouse or packing their lunch, bringing them coffee in the morning or a drink or glass of wine at the end of the day, warming up their car or putting their keys and other personal effects on the hall table, ready to go."

Real writes that sustaining a happy relationship, such as the Leeds', requires careful thought, a generous spirit and hard work.

"There's a lot of wisdom [to be gained] from our parents or grandparents, he says."They had companionship marriage, but we've raised the bar -- we want romance, great sex, and more intimacy. We can reconcile these two approaches. With some of the gentleness and graciousness of previous generations with the technology and savvy of today's marriages."

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Reviewed on January 29, 2010
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