It is said that the secret of a long and happy marriage doesn’t exist. But it seems that a gerontologist has uncovered some advices.

Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist from Corell University completed the largest in-depth interview study ever done of people in very long unions, surveying more than 700 individuals wedded for a total of 40,000 years. The findings are detailed in Pillemer's book, "30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage".

He conducted a national survey of 400 Americans older than 65 years interviewing them question about their marriage. Pillemer captured the answer of more than 300 individuals which has been married for at least 30 year (30, 40 and even 50 years of marriage) and tried to find out a common conclusion.

The study included 58 percent women and 42 percent men. The average length of marriage in this study was 44 year, including a couple with the longest marriage -76 years.

“Rather than focus on a small number of stories, my goal was to take advantage of the ‘wisdom of crowds,’ collecting the love and relationship advice of a large and varied cross-section of long-married elders in a scientifically reliable and valid way,” said Pillemer.

Here is a list from the top five uncovered advices Pillemer ‘’transmitted’’ from the voice of experience of couples walking down the aisle or decades into marriage:

Learn to communicate: "For a good marriage, the elders overwhelmingly tell us to “talk, talk, talk”. They believe most marital problems can be solved through open communication, and conversely many whose marriages dissolved blamed lack of communication".

Get to know your partner very well before marrying: "Many of the elders I surveyed married very young; despite that fact, they recommend the opposite. They strongly advise younger people to wait to marry until they have gotten to know their partner well and have a number of shared experiences. An important part of this advice is a lesson that was endorsed in very strong terms: Never get married expecting to be able to change your partner".

Treat marriage as an unbreakable, lifelong commitment: "Rather than seeing marriage as a voluntary partnership that lasts only as long as the passion does, the elders propose a mindset in which it is a profound commitment to be respected, even if things go sour over the short term. Many struggled through dry and unhappy periods and found ways to resolve them — giving them the reward of a fulfilling, intact marriage in later life".

Learn to work as a team: "The elders urge us to apply what we have learned from our lifelong experiences in teams — in sports, in work, in the military — to marriage. Concretely, this viewpoint involves seeing problems as collective to the couple, rather than the domain of one partner. Any difficulty, illness, or setback experienced by one member of the couple is the other partner's responsibility".

Chose a partner who is very similar to you: "Marriage is difficult at times for everyone, the elders assert, but it's much easier with someone who shares your interests, background and orientation. The most critical need for similarity is in core values regarding potentially contentious issues like child-rearing, how money should be spent and religion".

Even thought this isn’t a typical laboratory science study, it uses the rigorous survey methods to reveal the wisdom of older people. Don’t forget that sometimes experience is more useful than a scientific law!

References:

  • http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/06/gerontologist-finds-formula-happy-marriage
  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150617134613.htm
  • http://www.newswise.com/articles/love-factually-cornell-gerontologist-finds-the-formula-to-a-happy-marriage
  • http://psychcentral.com/lib/5-secrets-to-a-successful-long-term-relationship-or-marriage/

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