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Study: Love Can Last a Lifetime

A recent University of Stony Brook study shows that, contrary to public opinion, people can be as madly in love with each other a couple of decades into marriage as they were when they met.

"Early Show" contributor and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein explained researchers conducted brain scans on couples in the early and long-term stages of relationships.

"What they showed is that the couples -- they showed a picture of their significant other and it highlighted the reward center (of the brain). So what that can tell us is (that lifelong love is) not mythical, it's not fairy tale, it shows the same kind of reaction in both (early and long-term relationships), and that's wonderful news."

Hartstein added, "The more color highlights (on the scan reveals) the fact that there is a greater attachment that's built. Attachment areas grow over time."

But should we be surprised by this at all?

Hartstein said, "I think that in our news, we hear all about people getting divorced later and that is newsworthy, but this is the opposite -- that love can last much longer than we really thought about because their divorce rate is so high. So I think this is really hopeful that maybe love is equally long-lasting."

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor noted one important part of the study was that long-term couples who said they were madly in love still have sex frequently.

But how important is sex in a relationship?"

"It's very important," Hartstein said. "The fact is sex is important for lots of reasons. We know there's actually a physical health benefit, mental health benefit, and most importantly, keeps you connected to your partner. And that's only going to build passion and positive feeling towards the other person."

Glor asked, "Is there a number they put on this, per week, per month?"

Hartstein said, "They recommend a few times a month, once a week, as much as you can, whatever works for you."

But beyond sex, Hartstein said communication is what's going to make a relationship last.

"You have to keep the communication open, working on keeping the connection together and appreciating one another.