Old Couples Tell Researchers the Secrets to a Happy Marriage

How does one make a marriage last? Researchers interviewed and surveyed over 700 people with a combined 40,000 years of marriage experience.

How do you make a marriage last? Or what might be an even better question: How do you find that special someone?


A team of researchers sought to find the answers through surveys and interviews. Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer headed up the study, which comprised of data from 400 Americans age 65 and older. This set of people engaged in a random national survey about how to find a compatible partner along with other questions about love and relationships. Researchers also conducted more intimate, in-person interviews with over 300 individuals that had been in unions for 30, 40, 50, or more years, as well as a group of divorced individuals to figure out what went wrong.

Pillemer explained the reasoning behind such a large, in-depth study:

"Rather than focus on a small number of stories, my goal was to take advantage of the 'wisdom of crowds,' collecting the love and relationship advice of a large and varied cross-section of long-married elders in a scientifically reliable and valid way."

You could say Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, took advantage of a similar aspect of his dating site when he wrote the book Dataclysm. He harnessed user data collected from dating websites to analyze human behavior, which he believes tell a larger story about why relationships form.

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