Stable and successful marriages over time have many common factors. Below are two studies that include factors for marriages lasting over 10 years and another study that includes factors for marriages lasting over 45 years. In the first study, O’Leary, Acevedo, Aron, Huddy and Mashek (2012) conducted a random sample of 274 U.S. married individuals. These individuals were married for more than 10 years and reported being “very intensely in love”. They found that the factors for long-term intense lovers “were thinking positively about the partner and thinking about the partner when apart, affectionate behaviors and sexual intercourse, shared novel, and challenging activities, and general life happiness” (p. 241). In a separate study conducted by Lauer, Lauer, and Kerr (1990) found similar results. This study gathered data from 100 couples who have been married 45 years or more. They found that:

The variables identified by couples as important to their marriages were: being married to someone they liked as a person and enjoyed being with; commitment to the spouse and to marriage; a sense of humor; and consensus on various matters such as aims and goals in life, friends, and decision making. (p. 189)

The outcomes of these two studies show a lot of commonalities. Long-term successful marriages require liking each other, commitment, romance and sex, and shared activities and goals. The challenge for married couples is keeping the emotional spark and liking each other for a long period of time. The secret is effective and open communication.


Aronson, E. (2011). Social animal (11th ed.). New York, NY: Worth.

Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden

Fagan, P., Rector, R., Johnson, K., Peterson, A. (2002). The positive effects of marriage: A book of charts. Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation.

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2000). The seven principles for making marriage work. London: Orion.

Lauer, R. H., Lauer, J. C., & Kerr, S. T. (1990). The long-term marriage: perceptions of stability and satisfaction. International Journal Of Aging & Human Development, (3), 189.

O’Leary, K. D., Acevedo, B. P., Aron, A., Huddy, L., & Mashek, D. (2012). Is long-term love more than a rare phenomenon? If so, what are its correlates?. Social Psychological And Personality Science, 3(2), 241-249. doi:10.1177/1948550611417015

Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93119-135. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.93.2.119