What is the Secret to a Long Marriage?

There are lots of books on the subject, and I’ve read a few of them. But what I like to do when I see an old couple in the urgent care is to ask them how long they’ve been married, and what’s their secret.

The responses are varied, but often start to repeat, after asking so many people:

He says: fight a lot, but always make up and tell them you love them. She says: nothing, and just smiles.

He says: pick someone you can talk to. She says: laugh a lot.

He says, with a smile: just do what she says. She says: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, if you know what I mean. People nowadays don’t understand that.

They say: never go to bed mad at each other.

He says: always have respect for each other. She says: a lot of forgiveness.

He says: teamwork. She says: we always pray together.

Although I’ve been married once and divorced, I’ve made many of the mistakes that these people warn about, in different relationships, at different times. Now I think that besides having some things in common, one of the things you do need to have is just chemistry, a feeling that you almost feel like you have known this person before. It’s easy, things flow, and you can’t believe how good it feels to be with the person, even though you may not have known each other very long. Differences are OK, but not if you start to  judge them on these differences. Sometimes we tend to force it, or try to make it a lasting relationship when it’s not good. There are many reasons for this: fear of being alone, or just being single again, or that you may never find someone and that someone who is just “OK” is better than having no one. I’m not saying that there are sometimes differences and arguments that shouldn’t be worked out; that is part of a healthy relationship. But trying to make something work that from the beginning your intuition said isn’t right – is a mistake. And, you have to respect this if your partner says it to you. If their gut says no, no matter what you think you can do to make it better, it is wise to let it go and part as friends.

There is a huge population of single people who are all looking to find someone. Since they have not been able to meet them by “chance”, and feel that life is going by and time is running out, they resort to other methods to increase their chances of finding the perfect someone. There are single clubs with activities such as hiking, biking, etc, internet dating services such as match.com and e-Harmony, and then there are the professional match makers, some of which are very successful in producing relationships that end in marriage.

If you’ve been married for a long time, and have a good marriage, what’s your secret?

About Dr. Greg Meyer

I'm a homeopathic physician, an urgent care physician, camper, hiker, traveler, and photographer. After Microbiology & Epidemiology, I studied medicine and more recently have become fascinated on how homeopathy can actually cure disease, or better said-how it allows the body to actually heal itself. I'm available for consultations in classical homeopathy. Check my website for more information.
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11 Responses to What is the Secret to a Long Marriage?

  1. Tina says:

    My husband and I have been married for 25+ years, and were together for 7+ years before that. Probably what makes a particular marriage work is particular to that marriage. In my marriage there are ebbs and flows, highs and lows. Some of the lows have been pretty bad, but believing that my marriage is a holy sacrament has gotten me through those periods, back to the ‘good times.’ Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I take the vows I made seriously; to death us do part. That being the case, I can either be miserable, or make the best of it. I can hold grudges, or forgive and move on. Love is a decision, and the more I make the conscious decision to love my husband, the more I do. There have been some times when, if I didn’t hold the beliefs I hold, my children could well be growing up shuttled between two homes. But I made a decision to love. Some of it is suffering, but there is beauty in suffering for a higher purpose. I don’t expect perfect, and I’m sure I don’t offer perfect, but I do offer commitment and love that transcends my sometimes selfish desires.

  2. Yolande says:

    Find, and then marry your soul mate. Anything else would not be worth it.

    • Tina says:

      I think the desire for love is really the desire to be reunited with the creator. The creator is our true soul mate and nothing will satisfy completely until we are face to face with God. Personally, I don’t believe in soul mates in this life. Contentment comes from within; having a soul mate implies that we are not complete without another. I can’t be a good wife, or mother, or friend, unless I’m whole within. When I’ve found my own completeness, then I am suitable for relationship with another.

  3. Melania says:

    My husband & I have been married for over 33 years. I think the secret is to have an awesome organist at your wedding (since ours was your sister, Stephanie)!! Just kidding. I don’t think there is just one secret, but MANY.
    For one thing, we didn’t enter into our marriage thinking that we could just get divorced if it didn’t work out, we simply believed we could make it last forever. Another thing that I heard at a wedding I attended when Mike & I were just dating was this: A marriage isn’t 50/50; it’s not 60/40; it’s not even 70/30….it’s 100/100 percent participation/giving/loving/forgiving, etc. on both people’s parts.
    Respect for each other.
    The ability to laugh together, at yourself & at each other.
    Wanting to be happy, and choosing that option every day.
    We are truly each other’s best friend, and the person we would each choose to spend time with.
    You should treat each other a “little bit” like strangers–you wouldn’t be rude or hurtful to a stranger, so why would you do that to your spouse?
    Don’t say anything that you will want to take back later–words DO hurt!
    Make your partner feel special & loved every chance you get!!!

  4. Nancy says:

    Simple question – many answers. For us – now married almost 32 years – it’s been a couple of underlying principles. One is our faith – we believe that we are in this for life. We believe that there is a reason we are together. We believe that God has the master design and we do better when we follow that. LOL – not always our favorite option but it does tend to prove itself out. Another is the motto – “give a little, take a little”. Sometimes it’s a matter of giving in a little or taking a little guff for the good of the marriage.

    Marriage is not easy. It’s not just a ‘happy ever after’ fantasy. It’s a commitment and a promise. And it’s the willingness to honor both of those enough to work it through or stick it out until you turn the corner to good times again.

    It’s also good to learn to laugh at yourself. We ‘humans’ can be quite ridiculous sometimes, lol.

  5. Cyndi says:

    Four questions come to my mind…
    What is sacred?
    Of what is the Spirit made of?
    What is worth living for, And what is worth dying for?
    The answer to each question is the same; ONLY LOVE~
    Marriage gives us the oppurtunity to create something beautiful together~

    Since life is a shared experience~

    • Yolande says:

      Hi Cindy,
      Those questions are brilliant… they were used in a movie once – i can’t remember if it was Don Juan De Marco or one with Antonio Banderas… If you know, please reply… I love these questions!

  6. dianna scaccia says:

    recently had a similar convo with a happy and in love married man. with much certainty, he told me the reason his marriage was so strong and wonderful after many years was they respect each other. explain- there are many ways to approach one another-always do it respectfully. AND…he tells me that they never argue but they will disagree on something everyday! and that is OK!

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