Committing to happily after ever is harder than it sounds—especially when it means you and your spouse might be together for 30-plus years. (Time flies, right?) That’s why we consulted real women with multiple decades of matrimony under their belts to find out the secrets that makes their relationships tick. Here, their advice for keeping love alive.
“We go out for a drink on weeknights. Not every week, but as often as we can. It's a nice way to break up the work routine and it feels like a treat. And it's a chance to really talk. We've been doing it since the beginning.” — Nancy, NY
“You have to be honest and open with each other and trust is the most important. If something is bothering you, you have to let the other person know. Having a sense of humor is good, too. My husband is a very funny guy. He’s also been coaching football for our 35 years of marriage, which is something he loves to do. I know a lot of wives who put restrictions on what their husbands love to do. We don’t do that—and I think that’s the secret to our success!” — Bernadette, NJ
“Always remember to communicate your feelings. Also, respect that it’s OK to be individuals even though you need each other. The worst thing in any partnership is to lose who you are as a person—or to sacrifice your identity for the sake of your partner. My husband and I have always maintained our individual friendships, hobbies, activities and opinions. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy mutual friendships and doing things together. We just respect that, even in a marriage, we can still be ourselves.” — Joanne, MA
“In 40-plus years, we prioritize date night—which can be something as simple as our weekly bowling league—but we also prioritize setting aside time to work through issues we don’t agree on. It’s never easy to devote time to difficult conversations, but maintenance is required if you’re in it for the long haul. Those discussions don’t always result in an immediate solution, but the fact that we’re willing to listen to each other still after all this time is what keeps our partnership strong.” — Linda, NV
“Surround yourselves with great, loving couples that will be a positive influence on your relationship. Negative couples are never good to be around.” — Ellen, NY
“As cliché as it sounds, it’s helpful to marry your best friend. But taking it a step further: The key to an enduring marriage is to always treat them like that. For example, best friends are honest in a kind way, they accept each other the way they are and never try to change you. You also don’t stay mad at a best friend because they’re too important to you. I have never shouted at my best friends, but have shouted at my husband until I realized I wouldn’t do that to a friend. It’s pretty eye-opening.” — Pamela, FL
“My advice: Don’t give advice! If my husband asks me my opinion on something (say, what shirt to wear with what pants) or if I ask him his (say, am I singing off-key), you’re in the clear to answer. But in most cases, it’s best to practice listening to each other and not giving unsolicited advice. Also, it’s important to recognize that every relationship is different. What works for one couple would never work for me and my husband, and that’s OK.” — Joyce, CA