How can you make a relationship last? Ask the people who’ve been in love since their teenage years.
We interviewed 11 couples who met in high school and asked them all the same question: What’s made your relationship work so well for so long?
Here’s some of the advice that cropped up again and again.
'Continue to date each other and don't get stuck in the monotony of life. It's crucial to go on dates and be spontaneous with one another,' Danielle Weibert, 31, who's married to her high school boyfriend James, 30, told INSIDER.
High school sweethearts David and Lynda Olson, 76 and 77 respectively, still make a point of scheduling dates.
'Even today, Wednesday evening for us is reserved for dinner and a movie as best as we can manage,' the couple said.
Spending some time away from your partner can be a good thing, too.
'Because we went to college so far apart, we grew up separately but never grew apart,' Kirsten, 26, who's engaged her high school sweetheart Andrew, 27, told INSIDER. (For privacy reasons, Kirsten and Andrew asked that we use only their first names.)
'It gave us the opportunity to make our own friends, navigate adulthood, and learn independence,' she went on. 'We still try to encourage independence and growth. We don't feel guilty about doing things on our own.'
Judy and John Caras, who've been together since their freshman year in 1971 (that's 45 years total!), echoed this sentiment.
'Many couples resent the time their spouse may have away from them. We have always encouraged and supported each other to get out more,' Judy said. 'If John wanted an weekend either golfing or fishing with his friends or I wanted a weekend away with the girls, it was viewed as a good thing and healthy for our relationship.'
No surprise here: The bedrock of a long-lasting relationship is open communication. And that doesn't mean nodding along while your partner talks, waiting for the first available moment to interject -- it means really slowing down to hear what he or she is saying.
That's how Kim and Doug Heaton, both 53, make their marriage work.
'The best habit to keep a relationship long-lasting is a solid, open, and respectful communication line,' they told INSIDER. 'You must speak out on what you don't like as well as what you do like and listen to one another. Sometimes this requires a little time to think about what the other one wants.'
Other couples said there's value in knowing when to hold your tongue.
'Obviously open communication in important, but at the same time, so is knowing when not to say something,' said Haley Venditti, 27, who met her husband Jack (also 27) when they were both in middle school. 'There are so many little things you could blow up and argue about, but sometimes you're better off just not saying anything.'
There's a simple way to deepen your connection and smooth over conflicts: Just imagine walking a mile in your partner's shoes.
'There are times in life you may disappoint each other and the important thing is to try to get an understanding of where they are coming from,' Judy Caras told INSIDER. 'You may not always agree with (your partner's) thoughts or actions, but it is very important for you to understand them.'
'Be empathetic and understand that everyone's got a struggle,' added Ryan McKinney, 37, who's married to his high school sweetheart Jessie, 36. 'I think if a relationship is going last, having that understanding is really what it comes down to.'
After 55 years of marriage, it's safe to David and Lynda know a thing or two about lasting love. One of their key ingredients to marital success (besides 'laughter,' 'holding hands,' and 'daily kisses') is respect.
'Respect and affirmation are a must, leaving all name calling or slurs out of the picture,' they told INSIDER.
Jessie McKinney also attributes her happy partnership to mutual respect.
'I married somebody I believe is a better person than I am, and who continually challenges me to be a better person,' she said of her husband Ryan. 'So that's what I would encourage. Be with somebody who you have a tremendous amount of respect for.'
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