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Gerontologist and Cornell University professor Karl Pillemer has spent the last four years interviewing more than 700 retirees for the Marriage Advice Project. All interviewees were 65 or older, with the longest marriage lasting an impressive 76 years. A recent article in USA Today reveals some of the marriage advice these retirees had to offer:


  • Follow your heart. Respondents agreed that it's important to be in love, and to feel a sense of rightness about the marriage.
  • Don't forget to use your head, too. Consider factors such as your partner's likelihood of being a good parent or how financially responsible he or she is. Make sure your core values match up.
  • Keep the spark alive. Small acts of affection, such as unexpected compliments and doing little favors for one another, go a long way.
  • Talk. A lot. As clichéd as it may sound, communication really is key.


What does a long, happy marriage look like in practice? A recent CBS News report profiled one of the longest-married couples in the United States, Dale and Alice Rockey of Nebraska. Both 99 years old, they have been married for 81 years. Their 1933 wedding took place soon after Prohibition ended (but they couldn't afford champagne for the occasion).


The Rockeys advise that humor is an important part of a solid relationship. Both Rockeys agree that compromise and patience are the bedrock of a successful relationship, and that doing things together is essential.


They see no reason to let advancing age and health concerns keep them from enjoying each other's company; when Alice Rockey's health necessitated her move to a skilled care facility, Dale Rockey insisted that he be admitted too, just so they wouldn't have to be apart.




What's your secret for a long and happy marriage? Share with us!