Secrets of Long Married Couples

Updated on March 19, 2020
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl is a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, poet, and Liberal Arts major.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward | Source

Kirk and Anne Douglas

Actor Kirk Douglas recently passed away at age 102. His widow Anne Buydens is 100. The couple had been married for 65 years. Any two people that have remained together that long must know a thing or two. According to "The Vintage News" Douglas said his wife was his soul mate, but admitted in his book Kirk and Anne that he had affairs with actresses such as Patricia Neal, Rita Hayworth and Joan Crawford's daughter Christina. Anne is quoted as saying that because she is European, she never fully expected her husband to be completely faithful. What can be gleaned from this is that Anne did not set herself up for heartbreak by having unrealistic expectations of one of the most handsome and famous men in the world.

Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee

According to Ebony magazine, Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee were married for 57 years until Davis passed away. The couple admitted to having an open marriage, which was and still is rare for African American couples. The famous actors gave their opinion that infidelity is not what destroys marriages, but the lies and deception related to keeping extramarital affairs a secret. Davis and Dee said this arrangement worked for them for a time and then they fully committed to each other. They never recommended that others follow their example. The lesson learned from this unconventional situation is that the couple allowed each other freedom and they ended up choosing each other.

Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee
Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee | Source

Stiller and Meara

Jerry Stiller was married to Anne Meara for 61 years until her death. The couple worked together doing comedy and television for practically their entire married life. There have never been any stories to indicate that they were anything but faithful to each other. He was Jewish and she was Catholic and their backgrounds were vastly different, but their love for each other was very evident. This couple was a good example of opposites attracting and becoming friends and lovers in spite of their differences. Stiller and Meara are a wonderful example of going the distance with love and friendship, and being able to find humor in their relationship.

Jerry Stiller and Anne Mear
Jerry Stiller and Anne Mear | Source

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for 50 years until his death. He has been quoted as saying that he had steak at home, so he did not need to go out for hamburger. Newman obviously was saying that he remained faithful to his wife, which does seem rare for celebrity marriages. He valued his spouse and honored his marriage vows which certainly played a role in keeping them together so long. He also stated that people stay married because they want to.

Country Living reports that actor Ansel Elgort said he once drove the Newmans who were in their 80s at the time but making out in the back seat of the vehicle. How heartwarming tha this couple continued exhibiting public displays of affection after a half-century together.

Carl Dean and Dolly Parton- Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy

Dolly Parton says that her marriage to Carl Dean works and has lasted more than 50 years because he remains out of the spotlight while she thrives in it. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy were married for more than 50 years until Tandy died. These two were joined at the hip and worked in many movies and other projects together. These to couples are examples of finding what works for them. Dolly thinks her marriage might have filed if here spouse were in the businesses, but Cronyn and Tandy seemed to thrive by being together so much,

Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn
Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn | Source

Samuel L Jackson and Latanya Richardson

Jackson and Richardson have been married for 39 years. He has admitted to dealing with drug addiction but now says he is clean. In an interview with Essence magazine, Richardson said that her marriage has lasted so long because she talks to God and has learned to forget a lot. She added that you need amnesia and to not let the sun go down on your wrath. She also said that it's important to have a mantra and she and her husband have agreed to be an example of a strong black marriage.

Ron and Cheryl Howard, Jeff and Susan Bridges

Ron Howard and his wife Cheryl have been married for 49 years. He says in an interview with HuffPost that they were high school sweethearts and young, two factors that should have worked against them. He says luck, compatibility and his wife''s patience are what has kept them together. Jeff Bridges and his wife Susan have been married for 41 years. The actor admitted on the OWN network that marriage is hard but over time he and his wife have learned to let each other talk about what is bothering them without interuption.

The secret to an enduring relationship

Each of the couples mentioned believed something different kept their marriage together. Paul Newman spoke of fidelity, but Anne Douglas expected her husband to cheat and was OK with it, while Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee agreed to an open marriage. Latanya Richardson relies on faith in God, Dolly Parton credits keeping her spouse out of the business. Hume Crohen and Jessica Tandy, like Stiller and Meara enjoyed working in show business together. Ron Howard believes in luck and Jeff Bridges says he and his spouse allow each other to talk without interruption.

The secret to a long marriage is more in what these nine couples did not say, rather than what they did share. It is obvious that each of the 18 individuals mentioned decided consciously or unwittingly that divorce was not an option. They dealt with the ups and downs of their relationships but did not choose to leave. If at any time one of these spouses had decided to walk away, there really would not be anything their husband or wife could do to make them stay. In each of these unions, there was a desire from both parties to remain, husband and wife, and so they did. Paul Newman said it best when he stated that people remain married because they want to. That's no big secret, it is simply true.


Please note that there is no one size fits all when it comes to marriage. I have presented the fact of some well known long-married couples and in no way do I endorse or support everything that is within this hub. I do not suggest that anyone try to emulate any activities that these celebrities engaged in if it outside of your own personal value system. Personally I do not believe in infidelity or open marriages. It is my intention to simply share what others have said worked or is working to keep their marriage intact. The bottom line is to follow the old adage of eating the meat of what you read and throwing away the bones.


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    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      9 months ago from Roanoke

      Ok I must have missed that. Thanks, I will check it ou.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      9 months ago from Washington DC

      Cheryl, the details are on my homepage (the thing looking like a house is the link to a book of my earlier understandings of life) and my life's story is the links under 'The Book of Elijah: A letter to the World' found there. What I share I care not for "Filthy Lucre" for reading, it is for the purpose aiding those seeking their way to life everlasting.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      9 months ago from Roanoke

      You have such a way with words. Have you written a book? If not you should. Vietnam alone should give you a series of books. Thanks The0Natureboy. I really appreciate you.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      9 months ago from Washington DC

      And it could not have ended any other way except with your Disclaimer, Cheryl.

      I believe I would have stayed married to both of my wives had it not been for what my destiny foretold me when I was 12 years old. I met a girl whose birthday was 3 days later than mine so I decreed I would marry someone whose birthday was on or near mine and we would get married on that day or the middle between.

      When I met the first girl I married (legally, the Bible infer by "the woman at the well" story that every sexual intercourse is a marriage) she met the birth condition, same year but 24 hour and some minutes earlier (Feb. 1) than my Feb. 3 birth I desired except we didn't get married on the second. Circumstances caused us to divorce and on the day between our birthdays I married the second one.

      When I was in Vietnam on the day my first wife's first child was born I was in town getting married and when I returned to base the notice of my daughter's birth was given me. I immediately wrote her and gave her permission to, if desired, fulfill her desires but to protect herself. It was because who was to be my "second legal wife" had a boyfriend on the side that I entered my "New Conception." (All details are on my homepage under The Book of Elijah: A letter to the World.) Then, between 5 and 7 years after my rebirth I wrote "My Proposal" because of those experiences.

      I want to be your lover and desire you as mine

      but not to be each other's puppet nor control their mind.

      I want to be your friend to last all our life

      but not me a henpecked husband nor you a rooster-spurred wife.

      I want to love you with a love true, one that makes you free,

      so your friends can enjoy you and mine can enjoy me.

      I want to know I'm in your heart when you aren't around,

      that it's said with love when you say to me be not found.

      I want your love to be so real you'll not say it's only for me,

      that it be so when we're with someone else there'll be no jealousy.

      I want not to rule your life nor for you to rule me,

      my joy is all I ask and the same I ask for thee.

      So if you'll love me this way, this way that I love you,

      with our loving each other free we'll know our love is true!


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