The Secret to Staying in Love

Friendship and love were two consistent factors in highly functional marriages.

The Good Men Project
Sep 14 · 6 min read
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Photo credit: iStockphoto

By Cheryl Oreglia

I’m listening to this song on the radio while driving at reckless speeds towards the nearest McDonald’s. Go easy, what you don’t know is I’m on my way home from Lab Corp, after waiting over an hour in a crowded lobby, they took three vials of my precious blood. I’m checking some much-needed healthcare obligations off my list, it’s really not my thing, and by the way, I’ve been fasting for 15 hours.


At the very least I’ve earned a biscuit, sausage, egg with cheese breakfast sandwich from McDonald’s, they’re around 700 calories, but I’m only going to eat half.

Yes, please remind me, the majority of hell is paved with good intentions.

Let me add I hiked four miles up and down a mountain a little after seven this morning because a deranged friend likes this sort of early-morning torture, and I’m a pleaser.


Speeding through the drive-thru, I have my 700 calorie sandwich riding shotgun, but as if a precious grandchild I carefully seat-belt that treasure in tight, and I’m taking the corners slowly. Which seems to be annoying the driver behind me? I think he flipped me the birdie? He doesn’t know I’ve been FASTING FOR 15 HOURS or he would have been scared.

Keep a safe distance because I am not responsible for what you make me do when I’m hangry.

So here I am, singing along with The Searchers, and I have no idea why I know all the words? The song describes a man seeking help to find love, so he talks to a gypsy who determines, by means of palmistry, that he needs “love potion number 9”. The potion, an aphrodisiac, causes him to fall in love with everything he sees, kissing whatever is in front of him.

This song struck a chord with me, just last night on twitter someone randomly asked for people to share their secrets for staying in love, and like hundreds of people responded. When I ask a question on twitter everyone ignores me? Whatever.

Clearly this is a hot topic and people have a lot to say about maintaining an intense love relationship. I was reading through the responses, thinking about my own wisdom on the topic, and searching for threads of unique thought.

Here’s what I found.

  • Friendship and love were two consistent factors in highly functional marriages. No shit Sherlock.
  • Marriages woven together by similarities (education, ethnicity, faith, culture, financial goals, world view, etc.) have a better chance of success. This seems obvious.
  • Commitment to the marriage and the spouse is key. People don’t struggle with the commitment part it’s just who and what they’re committed to.
  • Being married to someone you like as a person and enjoy being around is vital. Hello…
  • A sense of humor is also imperative. Always.
  • Most people seemed to think children strengthened their bonds, although many mentioned a stressful adjustment period before the benefits kicked in. As in eighteen years but who’s counting?
  • The example of your parents’ marriage plays a vital role in both good and bad marriages, the more stable the example, the more likely to positively perpetuate the institution of marriage. I say behave the children are watching.
  • Almost always it begins with love says Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University, and author of the book “30 Lessons for Loving,” based on interviews with 700 seniors. “Essentially everyone, and people in long marriages in particular, described a tangible, often overwhelming feeling, a sense of extraordinary rightness,” says Pillemer. Many described feeling that they’d found not only a person they could live with, but perhaps couldn’t live without. I love that.
  • W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia said, “They don’t see divorce as an option.” That’s vital given that even the happiest marriages aren’t always happy.
  • A devotion to keeping the marriage interesting, even after decades together, couples need to carve out time as a couple, take an interest in each other’s passions, and take steps to foster intimacy. Here’s where the love potion comes in!
  • A marriage should be alive, and organic, fulfilling at every stage in life. It’s not a static relationship, it flows, shifts, adapts to the challenges in life. Often described as riding five-star rapids on a blow-up raft.
  • Love, respect, and humor came up again and again. In families with two demanding careers, children to raise, success comes down to working it out, sticking it out, finding common ground, or leaving it alone, as in stop picking at the scabs.
  • Supporting each other’s unique passions and interests is important. Meaning if one likes sports and the other likes opera then make a commitment to attend these events with each other, you can support each other, and still stay in your own lane.
  • It takes work, but working on your marriage shouldn’t be drudgery, couples should enjoy fostering their lifelong commitment. Like the feeling, you get after you cleaned out your closet!
  • Make time for each other as a couple, date each other even when the kids are young, because they grow up and take off, and if you haven’t preserved your relationship, you’ll wake up one morning and wonder who the hell is in my bed?
  • And finally a commitment to developing as people, allowing your spouse to change, and grow as a person. Even if she decided to take up blogging and you’re her favorite subject! Oh, Looney!

Arriving at the house I noticed my husband’s car in the driveway? I thought he was gone for the day? Damn, he’s going to find out about the breakfast sandwich.

I burst in the house with my little bag, I don’t even say hello, but go straight to the cutting board, and slice my treasure in half.

I find Larry in the office on a conference call, I slowly bring the luscious biscuit to my lips, close my eyes, and absolutely moan as I take my first bite. I tend towards the dramatic deal with it.

He mutes his call and says, “What the hell are you doing?”

“I left half for you in the kitchen.” Did not know the man could move so fast. He cut his piece in half just to look morally superior and devoured it in one bite.

In the office, I make a show of the bandaged wound on my arm from the blood withdrawal (did I mention they took 3 vials), after licking the last crumb from my lips, we catch the look in each other’s eye, make a frantic dash for the cutting board in the kitchen, he won the last bite. I let him, just keeping it real.

Peggy Noonan says, “a hallmark of good music is that it is confident of the values it asserts. In this case, those values include magic, love, and kisses. But really it’s a song about yearning.” I think that beautifully sums up all this advice on long term loving marriages. And thank God Larry was here, he clearly helps me with my commitments, shares my intense love of McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches (a total deal breaker) and has a sense of humor about it.

I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll hit the new drive thru on Union.

The Searchers — Love Potion №9 on YouTube

What’s your advice on long-lasting love? Drop a few lines in the comments.

This story was Previously published on and The Good Men Project with permission.

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The Good Men Project

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We're having a conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Main site is Email us

Hello, Love

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

The Good Men Project

Written by

We're having a conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Main site is Email us

Hello, Love

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

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