According to the Bowling Green State University National Center for Family & Marriage Research, only 7 percent of current marriages have made it to the 50-year mark, and only about 26% of adults aged 70 and older have been married for at least five decades.
And while the country’s divorce rate — an apparently difficult number to pin down — seems to be on the decline, it’s safe to say that a much higher percentage end in divorce.
With age comes wisdom, and luckily for younger lovers, many seniors whose marriages have endured the decades have gifted us with tips to make our own marriages last.
FIND INSPIRATION IN THE FISHERS
It is not possible to talk about long, happy marriages without mentioning Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher, who both died at the age of 105, Herbert in 2011 and Zelmyra in 2013. Married in 1924, the couple stayed together for 86 years, earning the Fishers the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest marriage. Before they passed, they participated in a Q and A session on Twitter, to share the secrets to their long marriage.
REMEMBER TO BE FRIENDS
Although there’s no rule that says strong marriages must be preceded by friendship, that dynamic certainly helped the Fishers. “We grew up together and were best friends before we married,” the Fishers tweeted. “A friend is for life. Our marriage has lasted a lifetime.”
FOCUS ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
While lust and romance often dominate the early stages of a marriage, relationships endure when both people focus on the day-to-day must-dos. “There’s no secret to our marriage,” the Fishers tweeted. “We just did what was needed for each other and our family.”
AGREE TO DISAGREE
When asked about the kind of fighting that breaks up so many marriages, the Fishers tweeted, “NEVER physically! Agree that it’s okay to disagree and fight for what really matters. Learn to bend, not break!”
DON’T KEEP SCORE
The Fishers were deeply religious, but whether or not you share their beliefs, the point they make about the dangers of interspousal competition is universal. They wrote: “Remember marriage is not a contest, never keep score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.”