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People need to put in the work to keep romantic relationships energized

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Actress Michelle Yeoh is known on screen as a woman of action.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE FIGHTING)

MARTÍNEZ: Her longtime partner, Jean Todt, a former race car driver and former Ferrari CEO, loves going fast.

(SOUNDBITE OF RACE CARS WHIRRING)

MARTÍNEZ: But when it came to marriage, the couple took their sweet time.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yeah. Last week, Yeoh and Todt announced that they were married after a 19-year engagement.

RACHEL VANDERBILT: I would say 19 years is a bit on the extreme end for how long an engagement typically lasts.

FADEL: That's Rachel Vanderbilt, a social scientist who has a PhD in relationships and marriage. It's why we called her up to ask the question, how do you make love last long term?

MARTÍNEZ: She says people need to put in the work to keep romantic relationships energized. First off, just acknowledge that no matter what, boredom is eventually going to creep in.

VANDERBILT: We become very predictable as partners. So I kind of know what to expect with you on a day to day, on a year to year, at a certain point, and you know what to expect of me.

FADEL: To keep that boredom at bay, Vanderbilt has some tips. Break out of your routine. Travel somewhere totally out of the box for both of you, and discover the place together.

VANDERBILT: Doing something that feels bold, exciting, a little bit uncomfortable can help inject that excitement into your relationship, and you can feel a fundamental difference in the state of your relationship if you do that for a long enough period of time.

FADEL: Just make sure it's a thing you're both excited about.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, and that leads to another key point. Stop thinking that you're ever going to be able to predict your partner's reactions and feelings. No matter how long you've been together, Vanderbilt says none of us are mind readers.

VANDERBILT: The more you get to know a person, the more you're able to make assumptions about what they think and feel at any given moment. And the reality is that we're pretty bad at understanding people's motivations and intentions for why they do what they do.

MARTÍNEZ: It's about really listening to what the other person's saying and being truthful about how we're feeling.

VANDERBILT: Being honest and open about what you're thinking, feeling and going through, about the state of your relationship as well. So, like, how am I feeling on a day to day? Are things working or not working for us? But also in the long term, what do we have as goals as a couple?

FADEL: So you may not exactly get back to that you-had-me-at-hello phase, and that's OK. What you have in a long-term relationship can be much deeper and much more rewarding. Just look at Michelle Yeoh and Jean Todt.

MARTÍNEZ: You know what happened, Leila, when I got down on one knee and asked Mrs. A to marry me?

FADEL: What?

MARTÍNEZ: She threw up on me.

FADEL: What?

MARTÍNEZ: I'm not kidding. She did. I figured...

FADEL: Oh.

MARTÍNEZ: ...It can't get any worse. We've been together 27 years.

FADEL: Oh, so you got married after that?

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, I cleaned up the throw up...

FADEL: Whoa. That's real.

MARTÍNEZ: ...From my face.

FADEL: That's real love, A.

MARTÍNEZ: So there you go. I withstood it.

FADEL: That's actually a really sweet story. It's disgusting and sweet at the same time.

MARTÍNEZ: Sweet? I don't know if I'd say sweet.

FADEL: (Laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: You know, maybe salty. Not sweet.

(SOUNDBITE OF TWILIGHT TRIO'S "THIS WILL BE (AN EVERLASTING LOVE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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