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Five Letters That Will Help Keep Your Marriage Strong

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – “Til death do us part.”

That’s the vow most couples take when they get married. But unfortunately, things change and many marriages break up.

Jim and Annie Murphy of Milton have been happily married 57 years.

Annie laughingly admits they fight a lot, but says it’s important to get those differences out, and then make up.

That’s one of the ways they keep their marriage strong.

They also say they always faced their challenges, including raising five children, as a team.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben Reports

“It’s been great, honestly,” said Jim. “I wouldn’t change one minute to be honest with you.”

Dr. Charles Foster of the Chestnut Hill Institute says couples can improve their chance of success if they remember five letters.

Start with the letter “A” for acceptance.

“You find little things that annoy you. You struggle against that, and you get mad about it, hoping to change it. Those acceptance battles, which is experienced by the other person as a rejection, are very very destructive,” explained Foster.

The next step is another “A” affection.

“When we are in a courtship, we are very affectionate. When we are married we are busy and busyness drives out affection, busyness and stress,” said Foster.

Couples also have to make sure they’re truly paying attention to their partner.

“In a courtship, you had the wonderful experience of feeling that the other person was absolutely riveted by you,” said Foster.

Even as a marriage matures, remember the letter “F” which stands for fun.

“If you are not having fun, then you are doing something seriously wrong,” according to Foster

Finally, don’t forget another “F”, which should remind you of forgiveness.

“Any two people who have been together for any length of time have done things to hurt each other,” explained Foster. “It creates distance, hurt, anger, and those things corrupt a relationship.”

Jim and Annie might not think of the key to happiness as a string of letters, but as a way of life.

Annie said you have to be prepared to go through a lot of good and bad times.

“That’s it,” she said. “And you get over it.”

If a marriage is going to have a problem, research shows there is some truth to the seven year itch. That is the time span when most failed marriages fall apart.

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