5 Secrets For A Happy Marriage (From A Couple Who Met 84 Years Ago)

Is it really possible to have a forever kind of love? This real-life couple does, and here are their 5 tips for a happy marriage.

elderly couple hugging Only_NewPhoto / Shutterstock

Get ready for a love story ripped out of the pages of a work of fiction

When Thomas Howard spotted the woman he would spend the rest of his life with, he was just nine years old. 

Irene and her brother Frank lived four doors down from Thomas and his family. Thomas quickly became fast friends with Frank, but it was Irene who he really adored and he did everything he could to spend every waking hour in her presence. The feelings were absolutely mutual, Irene adored Thomas (even then). 


The couple was inseparable until 1941 when 19-year-old Thomas was called up to serve in the army during World War II. It was a trying time for the couple, with Thomas's life at risk and the prolonged separation, but they managed and their love story only thrived. 

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When he returned in 1945, the couple moved into together and got married.


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They've been together ever since! They just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary and counting their extremely extended courtship they have been an item for 84 years! 

The couple is happier now than they were when first they met, and even deeper in love than either of them thought possible. So, what are the secrets to having such a long happy marriage?

This adorable couple shares everything. (You'll want to grab your tissues before continuing). 

Here are 5 secrets for a happy marriage, from a couple who met 84 years ago:

1. Remember how lucky you are that your partner chose YOU

Thomas shared that when they were younger he had fights with his friends over Irene. They would want to ask her on dates and he would have to scramble to defend his position as her number-one guy. Nothing makes you value what you have more than the possibility that you might lose it. Thomas was reminded constantly of what a prize Irene was.  


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2. Respect each other always

Thomas thinks that one of the keys to a live-long, love-filled happy marriage is respect and I think he's onto something. ''When I was a lad," says Thomas, "I was always taught to respect women, and if you saw a female in the street or one of your teachers, you automatically tipped your hat to them, otherwise you would be in trouble." 

3. Put in the time before marriage to make sure she's the one

Thomas and Irene had the luxury of growing up with each other, and while we might not be as lucky that doesn't mean we can't have a love story all our own. Thomas spent so many hours at Irene's house growing up that her mother had to shoo him away. Putting in the time, the countless hours, to really get to know someone is one of the cornerstones of a lifelong love story. 

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4. Know how to argue (and how to make up)

Thomas is the first to admit that he and Irene haven't always seen eye-to-eye. The key when you fight is knowing how to fight well. Get it out of your system, address the conflict, and always, always, always makeup at the end of the day. "I've always respected Irene — she's been my lifeline," says Thomas. "I may have been wrong on certain issues, and so has she, but we always make up by the end of the day."

5. Be proud of your partner 

If you want to have a long-lasting marriage you've got to be proud of your partner. I don't mean think your partner is hot, or think your partner is funny though those things certainly help, I mean true pride in the human being they are.

If you are in awe of your partner as a person, the rest will fall into place. "We're still in love all these years on. I still have her now, and I'm proud of her," Thomas said. "If I was fortunate enough to do it all again, I'd marry the same girl every time.


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer, editor, former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek, and former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango. She has a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime topics. Her bylines have appeared on Fatherly, Bustle, SheKnows, Jezebel, and many others.