Depending on who you listen to, about one of every two marriages ends in divorce. The reasons are at odds with the floating, euphoric feeling that sweeps people along when they first tie the knot. Living with someone in marriage means inextricably tangling your lives together, and sometimes the strings can bind uncomfortably. Nonetheless, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher managed it for more than 86 years and set a Guinness world record -- so staying married "forever" is possible.
They Know When to Fight
It's unrealistic to expect that you and your spouse will never share angry words. You get mad at your kids, your co-workers, your best friends – and you're bound to get mad at your spouse too. You'll lose your temper over day-to-day minor things, and – if you stay married long enough – you'll probably find yourself livid over major transgressions, as well. Remaining married throughout these skirmishes depends on how you handle both circumstances. Couples who successfully stay together for the long haul know when blowing a head gasket is warranted, and when to take a deep breath and try to react more reasonably. They look for more peaceful ways to deal with issues like messy bathroom sinks, and they save the hand grenades for times when something is really worth fighting over. They pick their battles, and they know that winning over the little things is usually less important – and offers far less long-term satisfaction – than preserving the marriage. This doesn't mean that you must live eternally with dirty sinks, but you might want to resign yourself to cleaning it yourself if you think your marriage is more important than your spouse's lack of tidiness.
They Share Common Ground
Couples who stay together through thick and thin, year after year, often share a lot of common ground, reports Lisa J. Cohen Ph.D. in Psychology Today. Opposites tend to attract only for the short term. If you and your spouse are going to spend forever together, you can't always feel like you're depriving yourself of things you enjoy, ceding ground to your spouse and pursuing his interests instead. Eventually, you'll begin to feel that your marriage is shortchanging you. This isn't to say that all your interests must be identical, but the more you share, the more successful and enduring your marriage is likely to be. In long-term marriages, spouses tend to have a meeting of the minds on important issues as well, such as religion, child-rearing, ethics and goals.
They Know What Commitment Means
A UCLA study asked more than 170 couples to define commitment as it relates to marriage. Participants who were married the longest reported putting their marriage first, even when it's inconvenient to do so or when it means giving something up. They defined commitment as occasionally taking actions that are not in their own best interests, in favor of making decisions that preserve the marriage.
They Know How to Communicate
If you're constantly giving in to your spouse and pushing your own feelings aside, your marriage probably won't last forever. Only a saint would be able to live with such self-sacrifice year after year. The magic formula is one of compromise and communication, according to John M. Grohol Psy.D. for Psych Central. You might have to clean the bathroom sink yourself because she doesn't agree that it's important, but don't do it without making your own needs clear. Let your spouse know – calmly and without animosity – that dirty sinks drive you nuts. This puts the ball in her court. If she's committed to your marriage, she'll bite her lip and swipe it out before she leaves the bathroom, at least occasionally. Give, but ask for something back so you're happy, as well.