15 Secrets of Marital Longevity

By: | January 4, 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
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Are you concerned your marriage won’t last forever? Read the secrets I discovered, and fear no more!

Are you hopeful your marriage will last forever but afraid it won’t?  Do you dream of living “happily ever after,” but not sure how to attain it?  Are you curious as to the secret of marital longevity, so you can apply it to your own relationship?  In 12 Misconceptions About Romantic Relationships I wrote that if people are happy, they want their relationships to last forever.  By reading this post, I am hopeful that you will discover how to achieve that fairy tale ending.

I have spent the past several weeks doing research.  I interviewed couples that I considered to have a lengthy marriage.  In this post, you will get many secrets to marital longevity, even more than 15 because in  most cases the spouses disagreed with each other as to what the secret is.  Since I granted the couples the anonymity they asked for, no names will be mentioned.

(**Warning: Post contains mild sexual content**)

Me: What is the secret to a happy marriage?

Couple I  Married 59 Years

Wife: Arguing is healthy, it gets it out

Husband: Don’t argue

Couple 2 Married 40 Years

Wife: A good sense of humor

Husband: Willingness to compromise

Couple 3  Married 39 Years

Wife: Argue Naked

Husband: Argue Naked

Couple 4  Married 36 Years

Wife: Communication

Husband: When a woman answers, “nothing is wrong,” believe it means everything is wrong.

Couple 5  Married 30 Years

Wife: High hopes, and low expectations

Husband: Declined to answer

Couple 6  Married 30 Years

Wife: Sense of humor and taking great meaning in simple things

Husband: Make space…for stability.  Give her space to do whatever she wants, and taking great pleasure in simple things.

Couple 7 Married 30 Years

Wife: Bite your tongue.  Think before speaking.

Husband: Declined to answer.

Couple 8  Married 29 Years

Wife: Sense of humor.  Don’t expect your husband to be psychic.

Husband: Just say ‘yes’ to everything the wife says.  Then, you get everything you ever wanted in your man cave.

Couple 9  Married 28 Years

Wife: Being married to the right guy

Husband: Good communication

Couple 10  Married 28 Years

Wife: Give space

Husband: Lots of sex

Couple 11  Married 28 Years

Wife: Just do it

Husband: Date longer before marriage

Couple 12  Married 18 Years

Wife: (Figuratively) hold water in your mouth until you calm down.  In other words, don’t talk until then.

Husband: Lots of communication.

Couple 13  Married 17 Years

Wife: Good communication

Husband: Good communication

Couple 14  Married 12 Years

Wife: A good sense of humor

Husband: Declined to comment

Couple 15  Married 6 Years (but together for 12)

Wife: Strong communication.  Being married to your best friend.

Husband: A happy wife means a happy life, and don’t bring your work home with you.

SECRET%20TO%20LONG%20MARRIAGE-3SECRET%20TO%20LONG%20MARRIAGE-5Observations:

1. I listed the couples in order from longest to shortest wed in order to contrast the answers from the longest together to the shortest relationship. However, I did not detect a contrast.  For example, the women married the longest and shortest both stressed the same answer–the importance of good communication.  Also, the men in Couples 8 and 15 had the same answer in essence–make your wife happy.  Personally, I find this refreshing.  Time has not changed the way we treat each other.  Time may “march on”, but what people do to make their spouses happy is immune to changing times.

There were minor differences in the answers of the spouse depending on gender.  For example, while both genders stressed the importance of humor and communication to the same degree, men stressed the importance of sex just a little more often than the women.

2. In order to give credibility to my study (which I will discredit in the next section), it should be noted that some of the answers that were shared by my respondents are supported by research.  For example, both the wife and the husband in Couple #6 answered by explaining the importance of simple things.  In my post 12 Priorities For Living A Happy Life, best-selling author H. Jackson Browne, whose expertise is advising people how to improve the quality of their lives, explained the importance of stressing simple joys.

In addition, the wife in Couple #8 said a woman should not expect her husband to be a psychic.  In my post 12 Misconceptions About Romantic Relationships, I explain in Misconceptions #3 and #4 that people aren’t psychics.  While I based Misconception #4 on my experience, Misconception #3 was based on literature.

Implications for Further Study:

Sociologists try to account for variables not considered during the study.  For example, did the respondents know each others answers?  This is critical.  If the respondent knew their spouse was aware of their answer, they might be less truthful; their answer could be skewed.  In truth, I interviewed the spouses at the same time.  In many cases, I interviewed one spouse, and they interviewed their husband or wife for me!  Therefore, they were aware of each others answers.  Ideally, they would have been interviewed separately to account for bias.

If you follow any of these 15 secrets to a happy marriage, hopefully, you, too, can have that fairy tale ending you deserve.

Readers: Were there any other observations of my data that you noted?  Are there any other secrets to a long and happy marriage that you’d like to share?  Do you agree with any of these secrets?  Why?  I look forward to your views.

Related Posts:

Fighting with Your Partner? 8 Eye-Opening Findings

  1. John Doe

    A lot of food for thought I think one of the most important things in a happy marriage is a compromise

  2. Alana Mautone (

    Since I’ve been married 40 years I should be an expert on the topic. All I can say is the answers of the couple married 59 years still has me laughing – I may never stop. But my serious answers would be – first, trust. Second, Be friends, not just spouses. Third, if you are a woman, marry a man who is a good cook. Fourth, be grateful for hearing his snoring – it means he is home with you every night. The rest will take care of itself.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      I laughed when I read how you laughed. I felt you got the inside humor. 59 years is a really long time, but they had OPPOSITE answers. She said the secret is to argue; he said the secret is not to argue.
      Wayne and I have all those things, so maybe those are good signs for us.
      Thanks for writing. I loved your comment about the laughter. I read it to Wayne, and he thought it was funny too.
      Janice

  3. thistalkaintcheap

    Don’t have secrets. I’m not talking about the little white lies, like how much you spent on a new outfit… I’m talking no secrets when it comes to debt, jobs, family issues, etc. Never ask a husband or wife NOT to share with their spouse… it’s a set up for disaster. The BIG secrets will destroy trust and communication quicker than anything else.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      Thanks for the tips. It is uncomfortable when people ask me not to share with Wayne, and I never know how to handle it. Thanks as well for sharing this post on Twitter. I’m still not sure if I’m comfortable suggesting “sharing”, but at least now I know thanks to you that it’s not inappropriate.
      Janice
      PS I think there’s a blogging conference or two coming up later this month. Maybe I’ll see you.

  4. kleebanks

    Very interesting post! I had a nearly 20-year marriage end about 14 years ago – and I have to say it seriously lacked in communication, humor, and much interest on the part of my ex in what would make me happy. Now I’ve been with my current hubby for 12 years (married for almost 9 of those 12), and we enjoy all those characteristics, including a mutual interest in pleasing one another.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      Thank you for sharing. That had to have been hard to end after 20 years. I know you’re not alone. I’ve heard others had that same experience. If your former marriage lacked those qualities, then perhaps my study is accurate and those really are the secrets to a happy marriage! Good to know! I wrote a credible study! =).
      I’m glad things are going well for you now. It’s nice to hear the success stories.
      Janice

  5. rebekahmooremurphy

    Janice,
    I really enjoyed this post! I thought it was interesting how a few of the men declined to comment. Makes me wonder what they would have shared if interviewed separately. Also, what if the men responded first. How different would the women’s answers have been? It’s true that communication is important. Sex is slightly more important for men (or important in a different way). Marriage longevity is crucial to understand and commit to. You never have all the answers. Each day is a journey in and of itself.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Rebekah

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      Your ears must have been ringing tonight. My husband and I discussed, and agreed with, your astute comments. Someone else who commented on the post agreed with you too. We thought maybe the men declined to comment since perhaps they are not happy!
      As far as who answered first, that varied. Perhaps I should have said that. Thank you so much for your interest in my study, and making it more thought provoking with your insightful comments.
      Janice

  6. dmperillo

    I thought this was an adorable blog. Fairytale endings are amazing. Fyi, 10 years together…he’d say honesty & I’d say respect.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      I am getting a kick out of this. You are not the only couple that’s sharing that they are asking each other the same question in their home. Thank you so much for the kind words. I am so glad my writing has become a conversation piece for people. What a great compliment! Thanks for letting me know. You and your husband sound like you have a good thing going.
      Janice

  7. Snarky Momma With (

    Hi Janice,
    I always enjoys your posts. I am with Rebekah in wondering about the men who declined to answer. I tend to be a more suspicious type and wonder if the reason they don’t answer is that they don’t want to take part in a survey about marriage longevity.
    I did find the answers from both spouses interesting. So I guess humor is the answer.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi,
      Wayne and I wondered if the men declined to answer because perhaps they are not happy!

  8. lidy

    I’ve only been married 9 years this year but I couldn’t agree more about humor. I make smart mouth jokes almost daily, which always makes my husband chuckle or shake his head at the absurdity and stupidity. As for communication, I’d also like to include another facet to that. And that is also to communicate with other on subjects of interest, conversate and laugh with each other. There are things to talk about besides the kids, work and the bills.

  9. Anonymous

    I have been thinking about this topic since I saw your post on Facebook…I have been married 28 years to my high school sweetheart. We only have one or two friends who have been married as long as we have who are not divorced. My conclusion is there are really no secrets or maybe the secrets are SO secret that they are only revealed to a select few couples. I think that what works in one relationship might not work at all in another. When I chat with other women about marriage and/or relationships, I always give them my observation as to why many relationships do not survive. The love most people feel for a partner is conditional. I am a mother to four daughters. The love I have for them is unconditional. No matter what the do or say, I will continue to love them. I cannot honestly say that the love I have for my husband is unconditional. I believe when certain conditions arise or deal breaking expectations are not met people opt to separate. Some people in long lasting marriages may chalk their longevity to unconditional love, but I see marriage as a relationship based on conditional needs and wants.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi(Anonymous) =)
      It sounds like you did soul searching and came up with harsh truths. You, and others like you, inspired the next day’s post, “Ways to Know if He or She is a Keeper.” I posed questions. “Yes” indicated he is a keeper, “no” indicated otherwise. The goal was to have more “yes’s” than “no’s”.
      I’m having fun this week discussing marriage with people. I agree with you; marriage is compromise. I just disagreed with someone who said once the kids come, he’s “a keeper” other than extreme circumstances.
      Thanks again for being so supportive as to read my writing and commenting on it.
      Janice

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  12. naturallygodly1

    I disagree with making wife happy, for a man or woman to say that in a marriage shows selfishness on the woman part. What about making the man happy as well? The happiness of both couples will make the marriage last.

    • Janice Wald

      What if it’s voluntary on the man’s part? Is it still selfish on the woman’s part?

      • naturallygodly1

        I feel if a man voluntarily does he will not say that’s how you have a lasting marriage.

      • naturallygodly1

        To answer your question yes if she feels that’s good you have a lasting marriage

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