The short answer is that it depends. The long answer is coming up after this sentence. The National Institutive of Health has funded a study called the Early Years of Marriage (EYM) to study the what happens to the bodies and minds of newly-married couples as they make their way through the early years of their union.
How much sex did they have? How good was it? What health problems cropped up, for whom, and at what times? They’ve been following these couples for over a quarter of a century and the data is out. And, it turns out, if you want to live forever, you better make sure your marriage is happy.
Dr. Terri Orbuch, the director of the EYM, has distilled the data from these 25 years of experience into some helpful tips to keep you and your partner happy, healthy, and frisky for years to come.
Don’t shy away from conflict. Couples who reported that they "never disagree" about 6 topics–money, own family, spouse’s family, leisure time, religious beliefs, and children–were less happy over time than couples who reported conflict. Health tip: Ignoring conflict causes toxic emotions to build up, leading to serious health problems like hypertension.
Made Man Tip: If something is bothering you, get it off your chest. Disagreeing isn’t arguing. Just make sure you don’t become unreasonable or too-loud in your discussion.
Keep relationship talk to a minimum. Happily married couples spend little time in conscious relationship maintenance or talk. Husbands, in particular, are more likely to be unhappy if there’s frequent relationship talk, which they associate with marital problems. Health tip: Be more empathetic and less analytical with your spouse. Mutual empathy promotes calmness, which leads to better sleep and less illness.
Made Man Tip: Subscribe to a newspaper, get a membership at a museum, or commit to seeing one new movie a week so you’ve got something current and/or artistic to talk about. That way you won’t have to hem and haw about how she never closes the bathroom door all the way when she pees.
Affirm your partner often. A whopping 74 percent of the happy couples said their spouses "often" made them feel good about the kind of person they are (as opposed to 27 percent of moderately happy or unhappy couples). Health tip: Frequently tell and show your partner that you like and admire him or her. Partners who feel well-loved and secure have less depression.
Made Man Tip: Physical manifestations of this work, too. Our favorite, of course, is grabbing a little caboose.
Focus on good sex, not lots of it. In a surprising finding, 75 percent of happy couples said they were satisfied with their sex life, even though sex became less frequent over time. Eight out of 10 couples reported sex was as good as or better than when they first met. Health tip: Learn to satisfy each other in bed. Good sex balances mood, reduces menopausal symptoms, and lowers the risk of several cancers in both genders.
Live in peace with in-laws. When a spouse doesn’t get along with his or her partner’s family, it erodes happiness in the marriage. Among happy couples, both wives and husbands got along with their in-laws. Health tip: Patching up your in-law relationships reduces marital stress, and less stress fortifies the immune system.
Made Man Tip: This one is a coin flip. When we asked everybody in our office if they gave a sh*t what the in-laws thought, the vote was split.