One of the things I enjoyed most the day I got married was hearing the advice from everyone about what makes a marriage work. Some said never go to bed angry, others said to make sure your spouse knew how much you loved them, and many suggested regular date nights.
I decided to ask spouses married at least 20 years or more for their advice. Here's what they said.
Spend Time and Go On Walks
Jana Miller (married for 22 years to her husband Mike) said:
"Our secret is we spend 15 hours a week together. This may sound like a lot but we find that it's important to keep connected. We believe you can fall in love with whoever you spend time with. That's how affairs happen.
We both want to stay in love with each other. One thing we do is walk together almost every day. It's easier to talk about difficult issues when you are walking. You don't have to look at each other every
minute and you can't avoid the issues. We've been through a lot of the years and the 15 hours a week has kept us communicating and more in love than we ever have been."
Never Stop Dating
Bert Martinez, married for 26 years to Joelle, said:
"We never stop dating. I believe we have missed maybe a dozen or so
dates in 26 years.
Even when we had no money we would go to the mall and share an ice cream or something."
Carl David, married for 40 years to his wife Arlyn, said:
"Truth is we're really fortunate; it is not work. Probably the reason it has been so easy, other than we're really best friends is that we always put each other first.
She is the light of my life and my only complaint is that time goes by way too fast."
Building on Adversity
Elisabeth Morrissey, married 26 years to Karen, said:
"... the simple truth is that long marriages are built one crisis at a time. It's like adding another fiber to a rope. Every time something goes wrong and both people decide to stay, the marriage gets a little stronger."
Trust Your Spouse
Patti, married 28 years, said:
"Our main rule is to not second guess each other. If only one of us is dealing with a situation, then that person makes a decision with the full support of the other. I may not have made the same decision as my husband in a particular situation but we've found that there are often a number of 'good' decisions one can make and happiness does not depend on always making the absolute best choice.
With four children, we had ample opportunities to make decisions when both of us weren't there. We do discuss the pros and cons of decisions made if we want to but only to consider what we might do if the situation comes up again. This rule has allowed us to be creative and be supportive of each other."
Paige Arnof-Fenn, married 20 years, said:
"1) Separate bathrooms
2) Date night on a weeknight not just weekends, we have it on Mondays
3) Celebrate everything wonderful: dating anniversary, wedding anniversary, good news, great weather, solstice, friends, delicious bottle of wine, you name it."
Let Your Spouse Know You Love Them
Sophie Greyson, married 25 years, said:
"My husband and I tell each other "I love you" before bed and each time we separate (like leaving for work in the morning). Even on the phone, we say "I love you" before we hang up. Every time."
- Couple Meets and Marries From Words With Friends
- Should You Stop Your Divorce?
- Online Counseling for Married Couples