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
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.
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.
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