There are lots of books on the subject, and I’ve read a few of them. But what I like to do when I see an old couple in the urgent care is to ask them how long they’ve been married, and what’s their secret.

The responses are varied, but often start to repeat, after asking so many people:

He says: fight a lot, but always make up and tell them you love them. She says: nothing, and just smiles.

He says: pick someone you can talk to. She says: laugh a lot.

He says, with a smile: just do what she says. She says: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, if you know what I mean. People nowadays don’t understand that.

They say: never go to bed mad at each other.

He says: always have respect for each other. She says: a lot of forgiveness.

He says: teamwork. She says: we always pray together.

Although I’ve been married once and divorced, I’ve made many of the mistakes that these people warn about, in different relationships, at different times. Now I think that besides having some things in common, one of the things you do need to have is just chemistry, a feeling that you almost feel like you have known this person before. It’s easy, things flow, and you can’t believe how good it feels to be with the person, even though you may not have known each other very long. Differences are OK, but not if you start to  judge them on these differences. Sometimes we tend to force it, or try to make it a lasting relationship when it’s not good. There are many reasons for this: fear of being alone, or just being single again, or that you may never find someone and that someone who is just “OK” is better than having no one. I’m not saying that there are sometimes differences and arguments that shouldn’t be worked out; that is part of a healthy relationship. But trying to make something work that from the beginning your intuition said isn’t right – is a mistake. And, you have to respect this if your partner says it to you. If their gut says no, no matter what you think you can do to make it better, it is wise to let it go and part as friends.

There is a huge population of single people who are all looking to find someone. Since they have not been able to meet them by “chance”, and feel that life is going by and time is running out, they resort to other methods to increase their chances of finding the perfect someone. There are single clubs with activities such as hiking, biking, etc, internet dating services such as match.com and e-Harmony, and then there are the professional match makers, some of which are very successful in producing relationships that end in marriage.

If you’ve been married for a long time, and have a good marriage, what’s your secret?