There’s this family in Wisconsin of three brothers and one sister. Each one has been married for more than 20 years. In fact, one of the couples just celebrated its 40th wedding anniversary. Wow. Obviously, this family has the secret to long-lasting relationships. We asked them how they do it, and you might just be surprised by some of the answers.

1. Don’t try to change him/her. Be with your desired mate because you love him or her as is, not who you think you can turn him/her into.

2. Trust your mate. Of course it’s easier said than done, especially if you have been cheated on in a past relationship. However, the person you are with now does not deserve that judgment. It’s a different person and it’s a different relationship. If you don’t trust your mate, you are going to have problems, period.


3. Be compatible when it comes to intimacy. If he is a touchy-feely kind of guy and you don’t like affection, well, that’s a problem. It won’t go away. It needs to be addressed early in the relationship, or it will become such a problem down the road, that he/she might seek intimacy from someone else. Intimacy also applies to emotions… do you have a problem expressing your feelings? Get over it. Don’t assume your mate knows how you feel at all times. Express your feelings and reciprocate when he/she says something intimate to you.

4. Make sure your mate is the one that brings out the best in you. Sure, she might be fine to look at, but are her morals in line with yours? Does she entice you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable? Does he encourage you to be rude and mean to others? An ideal mate will bring out the best in you and make you feel comfortable whether you are alone together or in public.

5. Talk nice. Don’t berate your partner in public, and also watch your tongue when you are in private. Do not show or express contempt, as it is the opposite of respect, and then that is gone, well, the relationship is over. If something your partner says or does pisses you off, do not react negatively. Wait to respond if you know you have a sharp tongue. Find a way to respond in a way that will diffuse the situation. The smallest argument can blow out of proportion and be the beginning of the end. The point is… communicate well. Don’t say, “That was stupid.” Go for something like, “I think you could have handled that a little better.”

6. Learn how to deal with conflict. Couples fight. It’s not going to always be peaches and cream. How you handle your disputes, however, can be the difference between a short marriage and a lifelong one. Attack the issue that has popped up, not your partner. Don’t become defensive and hurtful. Talk about it. Resolve it and move on. Don’t let hurt feelings boil inside and blow up one day out of the blue.

7. Face adversity or a challenge together, whether it’s aimed at just one of you or both of you as a couple. Say your partner is studying for the bar exam. As the test gets closer, relieve him/her of some of his/her chores so there is more time to study. Chances are, once the exam is over, your partner will do something special for you in appreciation.

8. Talk money. This is a very touchy subject. But it can be the death of even the most romantic of partnerships if you both don’t share the same values when it comes to finances. It simply has to be discussed.There are signs early in the relationship that will indicate a person’s spending habits. For example, does she only like designer shoes? Is he just as happy with a meaningful trinket as he is with an expensive gift? Are you going to handle your financial obligations as a team? Figure it out before you jump the broom.

Having a successful relationship is not always going to be easy. However, if you think ahead and follow these few guidelines, the rewards can be exceedingly generous and provide a lifetime of joy and happiness.