Love Across the Years

By Robert F. Bornstein, PhD and Mary A. Languirand, PhD

Love fades over time, or so the story goes, but the evidence says otherwise: A recent survey of several hundred married couples throughout the US found that about 40% of women and 35% of men who had been married for more than three decades described themselves as still being madly ("intensely") in love. What distinguished these happy lovebirds from women and men whose romance had faded a bit? Several things:

  • Common interests and shared values

    Those couples most intensely in love had the most similar views regarding morals, politics, and religion. They also had similar money habits (a saver married to a spendthrift is a recipe for conflict). Interestingly, many of these couples didn't start out with overlapping beliefs-their values actually converged more and more over time.
  • Balance between time spent together and time spent apart

    Along with their shared values and interests, the happiest couples had a healthy degree of independence-separate hobbies and activities that allowed them to spend some leisure time apart.
  • A large circle of friends

    In part this reflects the fact that happy people make good friends as well as good romantic partners. Still, a large circle of friends-including at least one close friend per partner in whom that person could confide, seek advice, etc.-turned out to be a key predictor of satisfying romance.
  • Realistic expectations

    After several decades together there are few things that one partner doesn't know about the other. Happy couples are accepting of their partner's imperfections, and accommodate them (just as their partner accepts and accommodates their foibles in return).

Robert Bornstein and Mary Languirand are the authors of When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In Home Care, published by Newmarket Press. The second edition, revised and updated, was recently released. Here's the link: