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Five Marriage Tips From Happily Married Couples

The secrets to a happy marriage seem to come naturally to some, and to elude others, so maybe getting some marital tips straight from our wise older generation who have had long-term happy marriages would be the way to go…after all, they did it right for decades!

The Cornell University’s Legacy Project has collected tips for happy lives and happy marriages from folks over 70 years old for over five years now, and so I’ll defer to them today as I share their extremely wise happy marriage tips.


Happy Marriage Tips From Past Generations

1. Marry someone with similar values, beliefs, goals, and lifestyle. You can’t change a person, so make sure you really, really like who they are before walking down the aisle together. Marry someone who loves you as you are and doesn’t try to change you either.

2. Don’t keep track of who does what, who gives what, who takes what. Give your marriage your best. If you both do this, you are both getting as much as you give, and score-keeping is the death of love, friendship, passion- everything that matters in a marriage.

3. Talk to each other, and don’t be afraid to express yourself. Don’t marry someone who doesn’t let you be yourself or criticizes what you say, and don’t marry someone who doesn’t talk. It’s ok to be the silent type with the rest of the world, but if your spouse can’t even open up to you, it may be a problem.

4. Marry someone you feel friendship with as well as passion, because during stressful times you won’t feel very passionate about your spouse, and your friendship will carry you through until you do again.

5. Don’t just commit to the person you married, commit to the marriage itself. Your marriage is bigger than the two of you as individuals…it is the beginning of a family unit, a significant new bond within your social circles, society, and the unit your children are part of and grow up in. Your marriage effects a lot of people around you, it’s no longer just a relationship between you and another person. Your commitment isn’t just to each other, it’s to something that now effects many people and things.

A common theme among our happily married elderly seems to be living balanced lives, where their relationships were held in high esteem and their spouses were valued. Just as important, they seemed to put a lot of thought into who they married, and made a choice in a spouse with both their heart and their mind. I’d say that is probably the most important advice I’d give my sons when it’s time for them to choose a life mate…marry someone that fits into your heart and your lifestyle, and who has values that match yours.

Then I’d tell them the advice of radio personality and psychotherapist Dr. Laura, who says when it’s time to pick who to marry: Choose wisely and treat kindly, because after you’ve chosen wisely, having a longterm happy marriage depends on treating your spouse with kindness, forgiving them for being as imperfect as we all are, and striving to make them happy.

The premise for these tips can be found in “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice From the Wisest Americans” (Hudson Street Press, 2011). I was inspired by them but reworded and expanded on the basic concepts in my own words, with additional thoughts that aren’t in the book.

  • April Decheine

    Beautiful, great tips! You are very informative with your marriage tips!

  • Eschelle

    Great advice, not gonna lie, I need to focus on some of those more. He also has to marry me…. *grumble* *grumble* lol

  • I am certainly not the one to take advice from, as I have sworn never to get married again, but Matt and I have been together for over 7 years and these are great tips that could not ring more true!

  • Love Monday Marriage Memes!

  • Theresa

    Great tips! Life is better with your best friend which is why I married mine! 🙂 We are heading into our 18th year of marriage and are still going strong!

  • Anne - Mommy Has to Work

    Great tips! You always have ones to think about – thanks!

  • My husband is my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together, and are even stronger now.

  • Those are great tips and some I definitely need to remember

  • I love this. I definitely married my best friend!

  • Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy

    Great tips – and it’s always good to be reminded of them!

  • Love keeps no record of wrongs. Great tips.

  • Those are really great tips!

  • I just got married. Great tips!

  • nicole @WriteSpell

    Great post! I really enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Rachel at managedmoms.com

    So true! I’ve been married for 19 years and I still remember our Pastor telling us that marriage is never 50/50, but that a husband and wife will trade off who does more at different times and I have found that to be true. There are times when I’m truly giving more and times when he is better at that. Like life, marriage is work and changes through the years with life as it changes. Thanks for this great post that reminds me to remember to do my part and reminds me of the joys, too!

  • Donna

    These are timeless, tested and true, tips. If all couples adhered to them, there would be much fewer (if any) divorces.

  • Wonderful, wonderful tips I definitely agree with them

  • Great tips! I love them. 🙂

  • So true about not keeping track. Grudges are small thorns in your marriage and they can grow to a full sized bush if you’re not careful.