My parents have been married for 28 years. Before my grandfather passed away, he and my Grandma were married for 57. Seriously. I remember their 50th anniversary celebration, standing there in awe thinking, They've been married for a lifetime. How do people stay married for that long?
Clearly, I'm not the only one to wonder. Dr. Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, began the Marriage Advice Project, conducting research to answer the burning questions of love and marriage. He spoke to 700 retirees in America with an average marriage longevity of 43 years. Yesterday, his answer: 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage, hit bookshelves across the U.S.
While some of Pillemer's wisest Americans did offer up similar pillow phrases (Know how to apologize; Respect each other; Forgiveness. No revenge. No pay-backs) others offered up some new tokens: LEAVE YOUR PARENTS OUT OF IT! You are starting something new, not doing a remake of an old film.
Words to live by.
The marriage veterans that Pillemer interviewed also emphasize the importance of a mutual respect and the work that goes into a fulfilling relationship. Not to mention the idea that committing to someone who is a lot like you in the first place with similar core values (not opposites attract) will take you far. Noted. (Also according to the gurus, we should be wary of anyone who your friends and family don't like. Again, noted.)
Even in an era of constant innovation and change, what makes a long and (keyword) happy marriage is something we can learn from the legacy of our elders.
"When you hold somebody's hands in the movies, it's really a thrill no matter what age you are," gushed one woman. "You know that when your husband puts his hand right next to yours you say 'Oh G-d everything is just great.'" Here's to hoping everything will be just great.
Photograph: Emma and Lester Pahuskin (Z"L)
Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is our resident theater aficionado and can be found constantly running around New York City to find the best new show, the most awesome dance party, or the hottest Bikram yoga studio. Follow her on on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.