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The Science of Happy Marriages: 5 Secrets to Long-Lasting Love

A relationship expert reveals five things all happy couples have in common. 

Do you ever wonder how some people stay married for decades-upon-decades, and still seem as happy as they did on their wedding day? According to Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., author of Fragile Power: Why Having It All Is Never Enough, these happy couples have a few secrets. "As a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, I've had the privilege of occupying a front row seat in the theater of marriage for nearly 20 years," he tells us. "During this time I've been a spectator to what does and what does not make for long-lasting love. And while yes, sexual intensity does indeed wane over the years, love's vigor can grow stronger when partners pay attention to cultivating the following traits in their relationship." Here are the key secrets to long-lasting love, according to Dr. Hokemeyer. 


Close up portrait of smiling young couple having fun outdoors.
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Aretha Franklin revealed to the world the secret to a happy couple in her hit 1967 song Respect. "Regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, religion or any other distinguishing feature of a couple, the one thing that keeps them healthy, happy and in love is a deep respect for the other person, wherever they may have come from, wherever they may be going and wherever they happen to presently be," says Dr. Hokemeyer. 



Curiosity may have killed the cat, but not romance. "Couples that stay happily together never lose their curiosity for the world they are privileged to live in, each other, or themselves," explains Dr. Hokemeyer. "Curiosity is what enables couples to get out of bed each morning and look forward to what they can discover that day."

A Sense of Humor

young woman playing funny pranks on her boyfriend at home
BAZA Production/Shutterstock

Couples that laugh together, stay together, Dr. Hokemeyer says. "Being happy over an extended period of time requires seeing the abundance of humor in the challenges and doldrums of life," he explains. "A couple that cannot laugh together is doomed to a miserable existence and an inevitable termination."

A Varied Pave

Black Couple Having Breakfast and Listening to Each Other
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

Marriages are marathons, not sprints, explains Dr. Hokemeyer. "I've seen too many couples who think that the pace with which they begin a marriage should remain the same throughout it. It's not. Couples need to acknowledge that marriages go through life phases and should mindfully adjust their pace accordingly."  

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Cheerful mature lady is communicating with husband while relaxing with mugs of tea in green countryside

A kind heart goes a long way in marriage. "Life is challenging and uncertain. It can throw things at us that make us mean and brittle. Successful long term partners push against this urge by actively cultivating a kind and generous spirit of being," says Dr. Hokemeyer. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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