Ever wanted to hear from a trusted board of advisors on the topic of sustaining long-term love?
Well, you’re in luck.
I searched high and low to find thirty couples who had been happily married for over thirty years, and asked them what one piece of advice they would give to anyone who is single and/or in a newer relationship, and the following is a compilation of highlights from what they had to say.
Side note: this is the second longest it’s ever taken me to compile an article, so I sincerely hope you get something out of it (and the article that took the longest to create came out a few weeks ago).
Without further ado, here are thirty pieces of advice on love and life from couples who have been happily married for over thirty years.
Time Tested Love Advice From People Married 30+ Years
“Don’t keep score. Score keeping will absolutely ruin a marriage. And it’s impossible to do anyways. You can’t know all of the millions of little things your partner does for you, so keeping score is just an immature way of building up a case for you to justify your childish resentment.” – Dianna
“Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves more. Either for a phase of your relationship, or overall. The point is what you give to the relationship, not what you get from it.” – John
“Do something every day that will give your partner a reason to be with you the next day.” – Allison
“Schedule sex. Just do it. It sounds boring and awful and like something old people need to do, but there are a growing amount of responsibilities in life, and sometimes you have to fight like hell to keep sex on the table.” – Samantha
“It feels generous to say that I was happily married for more than thirty years, because while I have been married for over thirty years, and I am currently extremely happy in my marriage, not all thirty of the years were completely blissful. Marriage is a sacred container that will bring up your deepest wounding, and this has been true in my relationship. So yes, long-term marital bliss is possible, but I would want to impress upon others the reality that it comes at a cost. And that cost is that you will have to look inwards and do some very honest, hard work. Don’t expect all sunshine and rainbows. Marriage is confronting stuff. And it is also worth it. I wouldn’t trade my husband for anything or anyone in the world.” – Kimberly
“Having kids is hard work. Only do it if you love, trust, and respect your partner deeply. And always parent as a united front. Kids will test you endlessly and try to go behind your back to mix you up. Don’t let them. Stand your ground, and be your partner’s #1 ally.” – Don
“Some people say ‘Never go to bed mad’. I couldn’t disagree more. I mean, sure, avoid it if you can. If you can squash an argument in a timely manner, then do it. But sometimes going to bed angry gives you an opportunity to bite your tongue in an appropriate way and then wake up with a clear head. Sometimes sleeping on it is the correct course of action.” – Ken
“Above all else, I would say this: choose a kind partner. That is the most important thing I could impart to anyone who is earlier in their courtship. If you choose a kind partner, everything else is easier down the road.” – Susan
“Know that compromise is inevitable in a multi-decade relationship. Maybe you want one kid and they want three. Or you want two cats and they want zero. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of instances where one of you will have to acquiesce to the others desires. This is natural. Don’t avoid these conversations. Lean in, and focus on how much you get, overall, from being with this person.” – Joseph
“Pay attention to the details. If she mentions she likes something or wants something, write it down so you know what to get her for her next birthday/Christmas gift. Plug in her phone at night so it’s always fully charged. Do the dishes without being asked and without drawing attention to it. Basically just be a good person, and give her your energy.” – Cam
“Make sex a priority. There may be short periods of your marriage where decreased sex is unavoidable (newborns, travel, start-ups, etc.), but consistently put energy into making sure that you’re sexually connecting with each other. Everything flows better when you’re making love at least on a weekly basis.” – Rebecca
“Be kind, put in effort, don’t stress too much. If you picked the right person for you, it’ll all work out for you in the end.” – James
“Be explicit about the roles that you both play in your household. My husband and I found a lot of relief in directly naming who was expected to do most of the dishes (or laundry, or chauffeuring the kids around, or organizing dinners with friends, etc.). The more directly you talk about this stuff, the lower the likelihood that either of you will ever resent the other for doing/not doing what you secretly want them to be doing.” – Tess
“The quality of your sex life will ebb and flow at different parts of your marriage. Don’t worry. Your marriage isn’t broken, or different. This is natural.” – Trevor
“Something I wish someone had told me before I got married would be this: marry someone who is financially stable. Or, at least, not financially reckless. There’s so much stress that comes from not having your shared finances in order, and so much freedom and spaciousness that comes from having money sorted.” – Renata
“The main thing I would want people to know is that they should talk about their sex life with their partner. My wife and I didn’t do this until well into our marriage (more than 15 years in), and I wish we had done it sooner. It really marked a new chapter in the depth of our relationship.” – Ray
“Nothing will make your relationship flourish more than regularly meditating on the fact that your relationship is about growth above all else. If they’re pissing you off, then there’s something to learn there. If you have a difficult time bringing a specific emotion to them, then that’s something to grow into. See it all as feedback, all of it as valuable, and all of it as being something for you to utilize and grow through.” – Mary
“Be more open to exploring sexually with your partner than you may have initially thought when you first came into the relationship. You can go so much deeper with a partner when you’ve been with them for a long time versus how deep you may have gone with short term partners from before you were married. It’s a completely different ballpark.” – Patrick
“Respect yourself and your partner enough to remain physically attractive for each other. Go to the gym, put on make up, dress nice. Do whatever you need to do to keep putting in the effort.” – Janeen
“I would recommend that couples have an overarching policy of ‘You can bring me any truth you need to, no matter how difficult it might be to bring to me.’ This policy can save you from so much pain, lost time, and wishy washy mind reading.” – Hannah
“Let go of arguments quickly. Even if you know you’re right. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. 99% of the things you fight about will be completely irrelevant, and it’s better to just let go and come back into harmony. It’s a relationship… not a battle for your egos!” – Jessica
“My wife and I have a little ritual that I imagine others could benefit from. Every day, whenever I come home from work, we always start off our conversation by answering the question ‘What’s the best thing that happened to you today?’. We don’t do this because we gloss over the fact that we also have struggles or low days… but rather to simply be in the habit of starting with positivity. It helps us out a lot, and I always look forward to it.” – Renaldo
“Something that my partner and I started doing over five years ago was we committed to engaging with each other sexually every day. Yes, literally every day! This doesn’t mean that we have penetration every day. Sometimes being sexual with each other means kissing each other’s genitals goodnight… or making out a little when he gets home from work… or doing a few minutes of massage in the morning. It’s our little way of keeping the sexual simmer alive in our marriage, and it has worked wonders for us.” – Beth
“Every year of your relationship, even if you have children together, go for a 1-on-1 vacation together. Just the two of you,. Even if it’s only for 3 days. It’s worth the effort.” – Charles
“Passion is a function of communication. If you aren’t regularly speaking truth to each other, and letting your individual inner world’s be known, then you’ll just be going through the motions.” – Arlene
“What I would most want to impress upon people is acknowledging and accepting that there will be phases in your marriage. There can even be multi-year phases where it just isn’t as sparkly and magical as other phases. Maybe your career goes through a down turn and it affects your financial stability, or maybe one of you goes through a crisis of identity and doesn’t feel very sexual as a result because you don’t really know who you are anymore. And these very real, often predictable, life-y things will impact your marriage. But if you chose the right person and you’re both truly in it for the long haul, then these peaks and valleys will just add to your union.” – Yasmine
“Only love is real. So when you’re engaging with your partner from a place that doesn’t have love tied into it, you aren’t really there at all. And that isn’t to say that anger can’t be simultaneously mixed with love, because it absolutely can. Every emotion can have a foundation of love underneath it. Just check in with yourself and remember to remain connected to your heart at all times.” – Jason
“Another person can’t make you happy, but they sure can make you miserable. So take your time in choosing your partner. Hopefully, you’ll only ever have to do it once.” – Delores
“Maintain separate friends and hobbies. There’s always the three entities: you, me, and the relationship. If you aren’t both cultivating friendships and hobbies outside of the relationship then you’ll never have anything new to talk about. Having your own life outside of the relationship is so important in maintaining a sustained, beautiful romance.” – Sharice
“I would tell people to ‘Give yourselves the opportunity to miss each other.’ Once per year my husband and I each go on our own week long trips with our closest friends. Him with his old high school buddies, and me with my tennis friends that I’ve known since I was in my 20’s. We each come back feeling refreshed and recharged, yes, but more importantly we get to have the experience of missing each other. The first few days of my trip I’m happy to have the space, but inevitably, by the last few days, I really truly tap into the sensations of missing him. And it’s always such a gift to reunite with each other when I get home. With this habit as an annual ritual, it keeps me that much more awake to the fact that I love this man deeply, and I know that he has a similar experience when he returns from his boys trip.” – Juliette
Aaaaaaand that’s thirty!
I hope you enjoyed this article and got something out of it. I certainly got a lot out of compiling it.
There is so much love in the world, so much resilience, and so much depth. I was inspired by the amount of love and care that went into all of the contributions that I received, and I really enjoyed seeing the differences, and the overlap in people’s responses.
That’s it for me. I hope that you are well.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you will likely also love checking out these other poll style articles I’ve made in the past: