Happinest Podcast

04: Adding Harmony and Fun to Your Marriage with David and Claudia Arp

David and Claudia Arp, founders of Marriage Alive International, have run seminars and marriage education programs for tens of thousands of couples in the United States and internationally for more than three and a half decades. They’ve also been married for 56 years. Together, they have written more than 40 books on relationships that have sold more than a million copies in 10 languages, including the Gold Medallion winner, The Second Half of Marriage and Ten Great Dates for Empty Nesters.

They have appeared as empty nest experts on NBC, PBS and CBS and their work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Ladies Home Journal. They spend lots of time together hiking in Northern Virginia as well as in the Austrian Alps.

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What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Empty nest couples who stay together happily don’t just fall into it—they put in lots of work to find unity in their diversity. Be intentional and build your relationship.
  • You can unlearn destructive behavior in a marriage by learning new skills, such as finding a better way to process anger in a way that builds the bond rather than tearing it down.
  • Clue in your partner when you are getting angry or upset. Ask for help in diffusing frustration with the relationship. Catch anger before it is full blown.
  • Steer clear of sarcasm, it’s toxic.
  • Although opposites attract, being really different is challenging in the child-rearing years. However, these differences—like having one partner primarily right brain and the other a left-brain person— bode well in the second half of marriage.
  • The Arp’s research shows sexual pleasure increases in the second half of life, especially for women.
  • Unsuccessful empty nest couples stay focused mainly on their adult children, not each other. Successful ones redirect their focus to each other.
  • Women are more likely than men to walk away from a marriage once the kids leave, blindsiding their partner.
  • Fun is the key ingredient in a second half of life marriage. Go on dates. Find fun activities to share.
  • Go down memory lane and remember why you fell in love in the first place. What is good about your empty nest marriage? What is okay and what can you improve?
  • Never stop dating. Make sure your relationship is a priority.

Judy with David and Claudia Arp