Marriage is literally choosing to wake up to the same face every morning. It is voluntarily handing your heart, mind and life over to somebody else and trusting them with them. It starts in all sorts of ways, through friends, family members or a serendipitous meeting like in the movies when you’re both grocery shopping and just happen to stumble into each other.

But marriage isn’t all hugs and kisses. After the initial honeymoon phase comes the true test of having to tolerate and live with each other for the rest of your lives. Because building a successful relationship that endures everything and bypasses obstacles in its way is no easy feat, we talked to couples who’ve been married for different periods and got their insight and advice on how to have a long and happy marriage.

10 Years – Communication
Couples who’ve been together for ten years are quick to note that the earlier passion-filled and lovey-dovey phase soon gives way to a much calmer routine. Then, it is the company itself that counts. This is why they stress on the importance of communication. One of the common pieces of advice by ten-year-old marriages is to talk, talk, talk. It doesn’t matter who’s right and who isn’t, they say; what matters is the ability to openly discuss anything that happens and find a solution for it. Without that, there can be no communication, no friendship and, most detrimentally, no respect. They also suggested therapy as a means of building that type of communication and maintaining a healthy relationship.

20 Years – Compromise
These couples have been together for two decades and are still going strong. Hence, their advice goes just a little bit deeper. For them, it is important to choose a partner from a similar background and who shares your core values to be able to live together for the rest of your lives. They stress that a successful marriage is hard work and part of that hard work is to compromise and put somebody else’s needs ahead of yours. When you value their wants more than you do yours, you build a stronger bond. You also have to be honest and learn to laugh with your partner throughout the trials and errors in the years you spend together.

30 Years – Respect, Understanding, and everything in between
With marriages that have endured for almost thirty years, these couples stress many of the things younger couples did. They cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication, for one thing, but add that action needs to follow that communication. You talk to understand and take into account your partner’s needs. You give each other space based on that communication. They also point out that a good relationship needs to be more than that; couples need to be friends who bring out the best in each other, laugh with one another and commit to one another. They have to forgive and forget. Forgiving your partner is the first step towards ensuring that your differences aren’t the end of the world. Most importantly, they have to enjoy mutual respect, because everything else follows from it. All of this takes years of effort, because every day, from the moment you wake up until your bedtime, you have to work on your marriage. It is effortless effort, something that you enjoy doing. This allows for better understanding and ensures you stay together without changing or suffocating each other. It allows you to take into account what you’ve come to know they like or don’t like. That deeper knowledge of each other enables you to get through a whole new range of things and helps you grow together rather than apart.

We also talked to a couple who have been together for 62 years today! With the wisdom of people who’ve seen it all, they gave us insight that was both valuable and to the point. She said that “endless patience” was the key, whereas he noted that forgetting your arguments was the best way towards having a long and successful marriage.