In a survey that's still under way, more than 8,000 people over 50 have already revealed what happens in their relationships — and in their bedrooms. Now the creators of that survey — writer Chrisanna Northrup, AARP relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and sociologist James Witte, Ph.D. — tell us what's typical of seasoned lovers.
Read on for a look at 14 survey questions, think about how you would answer and see how you stack up with the results thus far. Then take the larger survey yourself. (See the sidebar below to learn how.)
1. Do you kiss or hug your partner in public?
32 percent of men and 48 percent of women say no. But public displays of affection (PDAs, for short) are great for your relationship: 68 percent of those who keep hands off in public are unhappy or only slightly happy with their mates, while 73 percent of the happiest couples indulge in PDAs at least a couple of times a month.
Tip: Don't hold back — and don't worry what the neighbors might think. The sight of a lip-locked couple generally makes other people happy —and shows that deep affection and love can thrive in long relationships.
2. Have you given up an important part of yourself to keep your relationship together?
29.5 percent of people in a relationship for a year or less say yes, compared with 48.9 percent of people in a relationship for 21 years or more.
Tip: Happy partners encourage each other's ambitions and passions. If you're feeling shut down, plan together how to change your daily life to support your core hopes and needs.
3. Have you ever read your partner's email?
39 percent of people reported taking sneak peeks. Surprisingly, that percentage prevails in both happy and unhappy relationships.
Tip: Most partners feel violated when they learn their privacy has been breached. Are you sure you want to go there?
4. How often do you hold hands with your partner?
78 percent of couples say they hold hands at least sometimes. But it seems to be the newer pairs who are skewing the numbers: Among all couples who've been together 10 or more years, more than half say they no longer hold hands.
Tip: A squeeze of the hand can add a vital charge of connectivity to a well-worn partnership. Research shows that holding hands can even help settle arguments.