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PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Staying happily married can be a challenge, but one expert says you’ll have a better chance of staying together if you watch for the warning signs and do some regular marriage maintenance.
Dave and Cathy Kinard have been married for 37 years. They will tell you staying together that long is full-time work.
“It’s a tough thing and you really have to talk things out,” Cathy said.
“You always have problems, 37 years, two kids,” Dave added.
The key to making marriage last is troubleshooting along the way. Experts have identified some simple but powerful indicators that can help couples recognize trouble before the relationship hits the skids.
“Couples will say, ‘We just don’t feel like us anymore.’ Or, ‘I’ve lost touch with my partner, I don’t even know what’s going on with them,’ and it’s almost a mystery to them how they got there,” Dr. Wendy Hammond, a marriage psychotherapist, said.
“But a few simple questions like, ‘How much time do you spend every day just catching up about where you are?’”
Dr. Hammond prescribes prevention when it comes to marriage.
“I am a big fan of state of the union. We oftentimes will only talk when there’s a problem or only connect when there’s an issue that needs to be worked out,” she said.
Here are some trap doors she says marriages can fall into.
How often do you fight? – If you say never, think about whether it’s because you avoid conflict. Occasional fighting may be healthy.
The balance of power – Couples who always vacation or eat out at the place of one partner’s choosing may cause resentment.
Physical reaction – It may be the most telling. Experts say an eye roll speaks volumes.
“I learned that a long time ago,” Dave said. “I don’t do that — we don’t do that.”
So, while experts can’t promise a problem-free partnership, they say a little bit of marriage maintenance can go a long way.
Dr. Hammond also recommends against using technology, like email or texting, as your main form of communicating with your spouse.
She says you should never argue using email or text.