After 40 years of marriage, famous political couple, Al and Tipper Gore are splitting up. The reason – at least the one being given – is abnormal within high visibility power couples: they simply grew apart. There’s no prostitution ring that’s been uncovered, no scandal that’s come out, no secretive trips or love children or taboo behavior.

It’s a misconception that couples who divorce later into their marriage are few and far between. According to an economist at Wharton who studies family trends, couples ARE more likely to divorce in the first ten years of marriage but after that the percentage of those divorcing each year is very similar throughout the years of marriage. In other words, there’s not a drop off point, a magic number that once you make it to, means you’re home free.

Case in point – on the heels of Tipper and Al’s announcement comes word that his oldest daughter, Karenna,  married for 12 years, may also be seeking a divorce. She announced that she has been separated from her husband for the past three months.

So while there’s no “safe” point in terms of how long a couple has been married, there ARE things couples can do to ensure they’re growing closer together – and not further apart – as the years go on.

1.  Smart Heart Dialogue: This is the first tip I always start with and one that I go into in great detail in Make Up Don’t Break Up. Most of us know that open, honest communication is key in a relationship, but it has to go deeper than that. We must create a safe space where each person feels comfortable sharing their concerns, struggles and emotions, even if sometimes those things are painful to hear.

2.  Fight Fair: Fighting gets a bad rap. But the truth is, it can be a sign of a passionate, engaged relationship – you just have to know how to do it correctly! I suggest putting on an emotional “bullet-proof vest” where each partner agrees to be sensitive but frank and to not take things personally. But the bottom line is, don’t push things under the rug and believe the lie that people in good marriages don’t fight. It’s HOW you fight that’s important.

3.  Have an affair with your partner:  Why does it seem to be the case that we only hurt the ones we love? We tend to show our “best selves” to the people who play less-important roles in our lives. Aside from learning to be nice to each other again, and learning to treat each other respectfully, bring back things that you did when you first met – and feel free to spice it up. Make these activities your top priority! Remember, a touch CAN be magical! It can get your hormones flowing and build attraction. Rediscover romance by bringing physical connection – at whatever lever you’re comfortable with – back into your life.

For more ideas on how to rekindle the spark of a relationship – or keep it burning! – check out my book, Make Up Don’t Break Up.

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