"Life gets busy and stressed and it is important that your spouse knows you don't take them for granted. Give them frequent affirmation, though simple gestures (hug, kiss, turn on the coffee pot in the morning, bring in the newspaper) and words (thank you, you are the best partner, you look so beautiful today)."
And last but not least, talk about money, early and often, she said. Fifty percent of the divorced singles in her study said that they fought so much about money in their first marriage that they anticipated money will be a problem in their next relationship.
"Divorced singles said they have learned that they would discuss money with their partner early on and more often, so that it isn't such an issue. They would devise a plan they both could live with," she said.
David and Natalie Kizelewicz both had jobs when they started dating and still do, which helps them maintain a comfortable lifestyle with some money left over for a vacation each year. They were also able to buy a car for Natalie's daughter and help her with living expenses while she's in college, something David was unable to do for his first four children.
"My older kids might be a little resentful of the younger kids because they can see that they have an easier life," he said. "But I gave them the best years of my life. If they wanted to go to college, they could, and now they're all happily married or own homes and have good jobs. They're successful in life."
In order to maintain their lifestyle, he estimates he'll be working for at least another 10 years until their youngest goes to college. But, that's OK, he said. "I hate being bored."
When it comes to a blended family, they have it all: adult children from previous marriages and grandchildren who are older than their 13-year-old daughter. Plus, they've had custody of Natalie's 7-year-old nephew since he was an infant.
The staggered ages and familial ties are confusing to outsiders, but everyone gets along, he said. His grandchildren play with his younger children as if they were cousins. When David's grandson was in the same school as his daughter, he got a kick out of telling everyone she was his aunt, he said.
It wasn't much of a stretch for David's adult children to adjust to Natalie, especially since his oldest son set them up, the couple said. Early on, Natalie's family and daughter approved of him despite the age difference because he treated her so well, she said.
"They said he was the best thing that ever happened to me," she said. "I saw how he raised his kids and doted on them, so I knew he would be a good father."
The Kizelewiczes have also dealt with medical problems, a common issue for couples marrying late in life. Two weeks after the birth of their daughter, David had prostate surgery after being diagnosed with cancer a month before the baby's due date. Years later, he has it under control as a result of the couple's combined efforts to stay on top of appointments and medications, Natalie said.
Otherwise, Natalie no longer feels the age different as much as she used to, she said. David has slowed down a bit, but so has she. Their 7-year-old nephew seems to notice, asking how old David will be when the boy reaches his age.
"He tells him, 'I'm going to live until I'm 100; don't you worry,'" she said.
David also thinks about it sometimes -- when Natalie is 60, he'll be 80.
"Though we have a really good life right now, that's the only thing I kind of worry about," he said. "That's time to come, but so far it's been great. Age hasn't really caught up to us."