Some studies have indicated that half of all marriages fail today. But that's really not a fair assumption, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.
They say the divorce rate varies according to where you live, how old you were when you got married, how much education you have, and how many years you've been married. And that's really important, because they say the risk of divorce goes down the longer a marriage survives.
So this Valentine's Day, we decided to get some advice from people who understand what makes a marriage work - couples who've been married more than 60 years!
Verlon and Betty Bigham have been married 67 years, James and Bernice Braxton have been husband and wife for 63 years and Daulton and Pauline Blevins took their vows 66 years ago.
All three couples told me the same thing, that they still really love each other. So what's their secret?
Pauline says, "our marriage was based on the 2 of us making decisions together." Daulton added, "yes, and we dated 2 years before we got married, so we knew each other pretty well."
Across town, Verlon said this about his wife, Betty: "She doesn't get mad, very seldom. I do." Then Betty jumped in to say, "he takes me the way I am and I take him the way he is."
Finally, this advice comes from our third couple, the Blevins. Mr. Blevins told us, "I'm always right and she realizes that." But he laughed when he heard his wife add, "well, I let him believe that."
All joking aside, our marathon marriage makers played it straight when they considered why so many other unions fail. "They don't listen to each other," Bernice said. Betty had a different thought, "they don't need to be selfish." And Daulton summed it up like this, "a lot of our young people now really don't know what the word love means."
So we went to the Texas Tech Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic to find out what it means to "love" for a long time.
Dr. Jason Whiting, program director at that clinic, says the concept of marriage is often misunderstood. He says, for example, the term "irreconcilable differences" should not be considered a reason for divorce, but instead, a normal part of married life.
"It's a matter of being willing to accept the other person as someone with legitimate differences and desires," explained Dr. Whiting. And he agreed with something that Mr. Blevins had said, that "They get tired of each other real quick and it's over."
Dr. Whiting went on to say, "couples expect it to be fireworks or passion and heat when it really is a deep friendship and regard for the other person. That's really what forms the foundation of a long lasting and healthy relationship."
So there it is - the secret. It seems the reason these couples are in love after so many years is they are still true friends after more than 60 years. You could see that in Daulton's eyes when he looked at his wife and told her from the heart, "we've been married 66, going on 67 years, and you are still the most important thing in my life." Pauline looked back at him adoringly and said. "Ok, I think I'll stay."
Now, this side-note, therapy works. Dr. Whiting says marriage and family therapy is like going to a gym - you have to practice what you learn at the gym to get stronger. It's the same way with relationships. If you would like to strengthen a relationship, the Texas Tech Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic offers help to anyone in the community on a sliding scale basis. You can reach the clinic by calling 742-3074.
From all of us at NewsChannel 11, we wish you and your special valentine a very Happy Valentine's Day.