20 Couples Reveal What They've Done To Make Their Marriage Last This Long

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My father recently passed away, and when he did, my heart broke. He left behind a legacy that was filled to the brim with teaching among both students and his family members. One of the things that my father taught me was what a healthy marriage looks like.

My mother was married to my father for 37 years. They truly loved one another, and if soulmates exist, they definitely were soulmates. Nothing, even a hyper-rebellious daughter like me or the crazy world of education, could tear them apart.

As a couple, they were very unique. Though they married only a month after meeting, they defied the odds and embodied what true love looked like. They overcame struggles like moving to a different country, learning different languages, and being dirt poor just to be together. They were role models and true #goals for a marriage.

RELATED: The 50 Best Marriage Tips Of All Time (From 50 Marriage Experts)

When I started dating, I knew I wanted to have a relationship like the one they offered. But in this world, it’s highly unlikely. Around half of all marriages end in divorce.

To figure out how to save a marriage, and how I, myself, could have a shot at such a happy relationship, I decided to ask 20 couples what marriage advice they would give to people who want to make a relationship last.

Here’s what they said.

1. Never, ever settle.

“We were a match. We were considerate to each other and tried to accommodate each other. You don’t pull ultimatums and don’t do things you wouldn’t want to be done to you. We were always great to one another. Truth be told, I don’t think that I would have stayed in a marriage where we weren’t so fit for one another. Never settle on what you want in a relationship; it’s a recipe for disaster.” —My mom, married 37 years

2. Laughter is so important.

“Life gets rough. So do relationships. When things get rough, you need to know how to laugh it off. You both need to see the good side of things, and if one of you can’t, the other has to find a way to make you smile. Every situation gets easier with a smile on your face.” —Tom, married 24 years

3. Relationships don't last without teamwork.

“You need to work together in order to make things work with you, but it’s a give-and-take. If you see things as a ‘you-only’ game, you’re going to lose your partner. If you make your life all about them, they will take advantage of you and leave you. Act as a team, but still be your own person.” —Daniella, married 30 years

4. Have open communication.

“Talk things out, and remember that you need to speak up in order to nip problems in the bud. If you keep things to yourself, all you’re going to do is build resentment and blindside your partner.” —Eric, married 26 years

5. Treat your relationship as a gift.

“Don’t ever assume your partner will always be there or tolerate your bad behavior. Every day they’re with you is a gift. Treat it as such.” —Paul, married 20 years

6. Prioritize your relationship.

“When you put it on the backburner for everything else, you start to grow apart. Your job will be there in the morning. Your kids will turn out fine, as long as they have a happy pair of parents. Show them what a healthy relationship looks like; lead by example.” —Joel, married 13 years

7. Keep your sex life fresh.

“Honestly? We swing. We have kinky sex. We explore each other and work with our fantasies. Keeping the bedroom happy has always made it easier to stay together. Never underestimate the importance of physical intimacy when it comes to making it last.” —Carla, married 21 years

8. Say you're sorry.

“Apologize. It’s better to be wrong than to be unhappy.” —Robin, married 33 years

9. Be open.

“Communication (constantly), mutual respect and trust, no secrets. Oh, and lots of sex. Lots of it.” —Damien and Sierra, adult film stars in a long-term relationship for years

10. Get rid of preconceived notions of true love.

“If you want someone who excites you with whirlwind romance and drama, you’re doing it wrong. That’s Disney garbage. Love isn’t always butterflies in your stomach; it’s the comfort that comes with someone who you know will be in your corner. It’s coziness. It’s being able to know that you and your partner have the same goals and work towards them. The moment you stop trying to chase the new relationship energy high and start trying to make something stable is the moment you prep yourself for a long-term relationship. Want a high from love? Remember what made you fall for them in the first place.” —Jess, married for 5 years

RELATED: 7 Ways To Save A Boring Marriage Before It's Too Late

11. Make sure you're on the same page about children.

“My secret is controversial, but it worked for me. Honestly? Don’t have kids if you aren’t sure about them. If one partner is on the fence or actively shows signs they wouldn’t want to be a parent, don’t force it. Either learn to be childfree or find someone who will be better for you. Most of my friends had kids they didn’t want because it was expected of them. Most are divorced. I had a vasectomy. We ended up having a solid relationship that encouraged us to grow, while most others felt trapped by obligations they didn’t realize would be so difficult to maintain.” —Jordan, married for 18 years

12. Learn how to handle family conflict.

“Prior to being with my husband, I ended up dating someone whose parents hated me. I quickly learned that if your husband’s parents hate you or become a bigger priority than you, you’re going to be miserable for a long time. When you’re married, your spouse comes first. Your spouse is your family. Never marry anyone who can’t stand up for you when people try to tell you otherwise.” —Gina, married for 11 years

13. Know your roles.

“I came from very traditional culture. We have roles that are expected of us, and while it’s not what you may want to hear, it worked for us. I know what to expect from her. She knows what to expect of me. We hold our promises and don’t walk away from them.” —Roberto, married 42 years

14. Don't consider divorce.

“Divorce is not an option. Don’t make that vow unless you are 100 percent sure you won’t break it.” —Mildred, married for 43 years

15. Know what you’re getting into before you’re married.

“Never marry someone you haven’t seen angry, and never marry someone who has habits you can’t stand. They will remain the same person after the ring is on.” —Lumi, married over 30 years

16. Be in sync about money.

“Money plays a huge factor in marital success. Even studies show this to be true. So, before you get married, make sure that you both have the same mindset about money. Oh, and another thing? Never rely on a single income. That can create resentment and will also hurt your financial stability." —Andrei, married for 9 years

17. Share your goals.

“My husband and I made a point to talk about what our goals were before we married. Then, we pursued our goals as a team. Marriage is what you make of it, nothing more, nothing less.” —Irina, married for 24 years

18. Never stop caring about your relationship.

“The grass is greenest where you water it. If you take care of your marriage and really emphasize openness, you can overcome almost anything. If you stop caring about keeping it up, it will break. My first marriage died because my ex never pulled his weight or tried to make me feel appreciated. My second marriage succeeded because my spouse and I both put in an effort to romance each other.” —Andrea, married for 8 years

19. Don’t smother your spouse.

“Give him time to have with his friends, and give yourself time too. You both need to maintain your lives as individuals. Otherwise, you will end up crowding yourself out of your own marriage.” —Victoria, married for 12 years

20. Always have respect.

Respect boundaries and differences. If you can’t, it won’t work. Period.” —Christine, married for 19 years

RELATED: 10 Realistic Pieces Of Marriage Advice That Actually Work

Ossiana Tepfenhart writes primarily about lifestyle, food, finance, and relationships. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.