How do people stay married for 40, 50 and 60 years or more? Turns out, they know something the rest of us don’t. Those secrets were revealed to bachelors Matthew Boggs and Jason Miller, who traveled 12,000 miles around the U.S. to talk to couples they call the “Marriage Masters” — people who had been married four decades or more. In an appearance on the “Today” show, the men, who wrote “Project Everlasting,” shared these secrets for a long and happy marriage:
o Divorce? Never. Murder? Often! — Translation: Commitment is king. Couples who stay married a lifetime enter their marriage with the mindset that divorce is not an option. So when arguments, disagreements and other issues arise, they learn to work them out and don’t run away. The only deal breakers are the three A’s: addiction, adultery and abuse.
o There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, only perfect moments — It takes work to create a great marriage. As one wife said, “Whoever said being soul mates was going to be easy?” And her husband of 52 years added, “Marriage is a bed of roses — thorns and all.”
o Unpack the gunnysack — Translation: Don’t be afraid to fight. Say what is on your mind. It’s the unexpressed frustrations that will cause more problems in the long run as they turn into resentments that will eat away at your marriage. Those who have been married for decades advise “unpack the gunnysack” by opening up the lines of communication.
o Never stop dating — It’s not just the quality of time you spend together; it’s also the quantity that counts. Keep the romance burning by stoking the fire. Go out on dates, take getaway weekends and long vacations with just the two of you.
o Love is a four-letter word spelled give — Be selfless. Marriage is not 50/50. It’s 60/40. You give 60 and take 40. And that goes for both of you.
o Join the CMAT Club (Can’t Miss A Thing) — Life is short, so enjoy every minute of it. It’s easy to get caught in the day-to-day busyness of life and in the process take your spouse for granted. Life is an adventure and all too soon it will end. So relish your sweetheart’s presence now.
o The discipline of respect — You can have respect without love, but you can’t have love without respect. According to all those interviewed, the No. 1 secret for a thriving, everlasting marriage is respect. When you respect your partner and your partner respects you, everything else flows into place: trust, connection, authenticity and love.