Making Love Last

Perhaps you have seen this video recently of a 96 year old man named Fred who entered a songwriting contest. Fred had been married to his wife Lorraine for 73 years, and although she had passed away a month earlier, he wanted to honor her memory by writing her a song. He sent the lyrics to Green Shoe Studio who was hosting the contest, but let them know he had no musical experience. They received Fred’s manilla envelope and were intrigued, and the rest is history. Take a look below (but be sure you have the Kleenex handy):

Stories like this make everyone smile. We love hearing of couples who have braved the odds and the statistics and made it through a lifetime together. I think everyone longs for that kind of love – a love that starts well and ends well.

But what is it that makes love last? Is it the couples’ personalities, their chemistry, their faith, or a combination of all three?

I have interviewed various older couples through the years who have stayed married despite circumstances that could have torn them apart. Almost all of the couples have shared similar words of advice. When asked, “What made your love last all of these years?” These were the most common answers I received:

  1. Forgiveness. Couples who stayed together were able to truly forgive one another and not stay bitter over past hurts. Bitterness erodes a marriage and causes permanent damage. Does this mean that certain issues were completely forgotten? No. Forgiveness enables us to move forward despite our hurts and start again.
  2. Laughter. Laughing together brings stress relief and greater feelings of closeness. Marriage experts Les and Leslie Parrot state, “Studies reveal that individuals who have a strong sense of humor are less likely to experience burnout and depression and they are more likely to enjoy life in general — including their marriage.” They also write, “One of the reasons many couples never reach their ‘laughter potential’ is because they have never taken humor seriously. Sounds strange, but to bring more laughter into your relationship, you need to know what makes your husband or wife laugh.” Don’t laugh at the expense of your spouse, which can be hurtful, but rather find out what makes your spouse laugh and work to bring that into your marriage more.
  3. Prayer. Praying together shows a commitment to putting God first in your relationship despite the conflicts you may be facing together. I know many believers who wish their spouses would pray with them, but don’t. Often times one person might be afraid to initiate prayer because of shame or unforgiveness. Dennis Rainey says, “If there is one simple ritual I would urge couples to begin adopting in their marriages, it is this one—the habit of praying together every day.” Many Christian couples who have been married for decades have said that prayer together is their number one piece of advice for a lasting marriage.
  4. Selflessness. Love the other person as Christ would. Serve them, honor them, and act in their best interest. During a dating relationship, couples bend over backwards to put the other person first. This can change a few years into marriage. Healthy marriages that last a lifetime continue to put the other person first.
  5. Respect. Both members in a marriage need to feel that they are valued and respected. Have you ever met a couple who has been married for years but seem to have no more respect for one another? They may stay married, but it is not a loving or healthy marriage. The happiest, long-term marriages are ones where respect is put at a top priority. Cutting words are withheld, opinions are appreciated, and one person does not feel less than the other.

While these were the most common answers I received, there are, of course, many other components to a lasting marriage. When my husband and I got engaged, an older couple who had been married 50 years gave us this piece of advice: “Watch your words closely.  The words you say can affect the other person in your marriage for decades. Use your words wisely or keep your mouth shut.”  They went on to explain how hurtful words spoken early in their marriage still caused pain even years later.

I don’t know Fred personally, although I’d love to hear his thoughts on what made his marriage last 73 years.  Yet you can hear in his voice the love, adoration and respect he held for his wife Lorraine.  May we all continue to work on these things in our own marriages so that they can last a lifetime, too.


Jaimie Bowman is a pastor's wife, speaker and writer who lives in Southern California. She loves speaking truth and grace into people's lives and helping them find their unique purpose. Together with her husband and two sons (ages 6 and 8), you can often find them trying to find new places to explore. You can find out more about her at and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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