My approach to relationships is simple it's all about communication. Without the kind of talking you'd have with your best friend, it won't last.
I've been married twice. The first marriage was shorter than the wedding ceremony. Actually, at 23, just out of college, I was lost personally and my ex was a wonderful reminder of my childhood, my family, and my old high school friends.
My second marriage has been going strong for nine years. She's twelve years older (!), a tenured professor, very strong and independent. I consider myself an expert and an advocate for the older woman/younger man relationship. I'm a member of the club. We were actually featured on an episode of Love Chronicles for A&E a while back. I consider my relationship with my wife to be one of the three most important things I do.
The other two are my kids. I have an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. They are my best friends, but they also require huge amounts of time and energy. I can honestly say that everything I know, I've learned from my kids...or at least it seems that way.
I'm always a bit suspicious of why people write into online or newspaper help columns. It seems like there are better sources of ideas and information out there. On the other hand, there must be some satisfaction in seeing your problem splashed out there for all the world to read. I can't believe you'll actually find any wisdom here, but I'll do my best!