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Marriage Builder: Secrets of a happy marriage

Modern marriage lasts an average of 9.4 years -- considerably less than forever. Too often the "I do" dissolves into "I don't, I can't, and I won't." Yet for every marriage that crumbles, another endures. Here, marriage experts David and Claudia Arp share some of the key ingredients in those good marriages that endure.

Dealing with feelings
Some people think the major keys for an enduring marriage are passion and romance. They are wrong. "Love is a prerequisite to launching a good marriage, but it isn't enough to keep the marriage afloat," says marital researcher Howard Markman.

More important than how much two people love each other, or how happy they are before the wedding, is how well they talk, share, and work out their problems after marriage. In order words, how they deal with their feelings matters more than what they're actually feeling.

10 characteristics
Here are ten common characteristics of happy couples. Check and see how many describe your marriage!

  1. They're best friends.
  2. They listen to and confide in each other.
  3. They're tuned in to each other feelings.
  4. They can deal with negative emotions.
  5. They know how to handle conflict.
  6. They're less than brutally honest. In other words, they think before they talk.
  7. They trust each other.
  8. They're committed to making the marriage work.
  9. They share interests.
  10. They're flexible enough to change and tolerate change.

The good news from the marriage researchers is that couples learn how to be happily married. It's possible, they say, to master the skills needed to make your relationship better. And that's good news!

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