FeelGooder Asks: How Do You Keep Your Relationships Strong?

I’m always fascinated when I meet people who have reached their twentieth, thirtieth, or fiftieth wedding anniversaries (or longer!) and are still together. The first question I always blurt out is: What’s your secret?

I love the answers. No one has ever told me it’s easy. My own grandmother tells me that she and my Pa always had fun—that was their key. And it’s true. They were always laughing, pulling stupid pranks on each other, telling jokes, organizing costume parties, and so much more. They adored each other and they loved to laugh. I make it a point to keep playing in my relationship as much as possible.

On Valentine’s Day 2010, the world’s longest-married couple took to Twitter to share their wisdom and advice in bite-sized pieces for the younger generations, who were all invited to tweet questions.

The Fishers' Twitter stream

The Fishers' Twitter stream

Together 86 years, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher (with the help of a technologically-savvy young thing somewhere) delivered their gems of marriage insight to the World Wide Web.

When you are more than 100 years old, I’d say you’ve seen nearly everything. They struck me with their calmness and certainty in what they have, and the sheer solidarity of what it takes to get through almost a century together.

When asked how they knew they were right for each other, they said: “We grew up together and were best friends before we married. A friend is for life—our marriage has lasted a lifetime.”

And when asked about the hard relationship times they said: “Remember marriage is not a contest—never keep a score.” They emphasise teamwork and a willingness to do what needs to be done.

These days, they enjoy sitting on their porch talking. After all these years they haven’t run out of things to say to each other.

What advice would you give to someone asking how to keep their relationship strong? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from someone else? What do you do in your own relationships to make sure they survive the distance?

About Emma

Emma Merkas is the co-creator of couples' inspiration website $30 Date Night and author of the 'How Was It For You?' relationships and dating column in Australian newspaper, mX. You can also find her at her own blog or on Twitter @30dollardate.


  1. I’m in a very happy relationship right now (though it is NOT without its…issues), so this article made me smile so much! I can relate to this couple: my boyfriend and I were friends first. I had heard the advice before “be friends first,” and while I can’t say that’s the trick, it’s fun just being friends sometimes, somehow forgetting we have feelings and genitals (haha!) and immersing in conversation for hours.

    “Remember marriage is not a contest—never keep a score.” I mentioned “issues” above. And that’s why this advice is priceless. It’s what my boyfriend and I are learning. It’s not about who hurt who more, it’s about knowing you want to be together, be happy, and focusing on that.

  2. To really have a solid relationship we have to be able to keep our minds in check. Too many of us think that there is something better out there which there seldom ever is.

    We have to be appreciative of our partners and love them for who they are.

  3. What advice would you give to someone”

    As the Fihers said, being best friends is a must!

    The DeFazios had been married 67 years when I caught the Mrs. on video offering her own advice for a long lasting marriage… including “keep you mouth shut” when it comes to arguments. lol

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Very good question Emma because to answer it we first have to check we’re proeprly taking care of our most vital relationships. My answer is, and always has been, communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk honestly, share feelings, make calls when you’re away, stay connected. When communication dies trust and doubt start to stir in its place. When it lives people love better. It’s smart for the heart!

  5. The best advice my husband and I were given when we first got married regarding how to keep our relationship strong was twofold–the first part dealing with how we treated each other, and the second dealing with how we allowed others to treat either or both of us:

    One, make it a priority to be respectful toward each other in speech and behavior. Even if respectful behavior has diminished for whatever reason, the couple can work to reestablish it, but it’s one of those things that you’ve got to be willing to give to get.

    Two, make it a priority to act like a united front. Since two people in a relationship won’t see eye-to-eye on every decision affecting that relationship, it’s especially important to stand strong as a united front before those in life who have divisive tendencies–an undermining relative, an embittered friend, a meddlesome neighbor, etc. Once a couple makes an important decision to move in a certain direction–as unpopular as that decision may be with others–the couple has to treat it as *their* decision.

    My husband and I stay mindful of that advice–it isn’t always easy!–and we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary this year. 🙂

  6. Nice post, Emma. I am married now for over 6 months but was in the relationship with my wife for over 6 years and that too we had to stay in different states in India for employment purposes.

    We believed and still believe one must have trust, and honesty to sustain a relationship. See, we make mistakes but it’s always good if you disclose them to each other. This increases respect too between the couple. If respect to each other is lost, then the relationship is just for the heck of it. Nice post anyway.

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