Love is blind — especially when it comes to the ziti.

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, a holiday that reminds us all of how important it is to be present in the lives of the people we love — or, if we don’t have the time to be present, to post a photo on Facebook. Let’s face it, nothing says love like a photo on Facebook.

Earlier this month I asked people who had been married 40 years to share with me the secrets to keeping love alive and making a relationship last that long. Here are some of their answers.

• Candy Moot: “Does it count if my 40 years were with two different husbands? I am currently married, but I often introduce my husband as my ‘current’ husband. I don’t want him to get overconfident.”

• David Kelley (Candy Moot’s first husband): “William James wrote that ‘the art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.’ Let go of the small stuff. Remember the guy who killed his wife because she overcooked the ziti? I probably would have overlooked that.”

• Chuck Nichols (Candy Moot’s “current” husband): “Trust. Sex. Respect. Sex. Good communication. Sex.”

• Melinda Moulton: “I love the way my husband smells. Curling up next to Rick at night and sniffing his skin drives me wild.”

• Jan Buker: “Enjoy everything, even the smallest moments. And remember that often the things that go wrong make the best stories. That was a Ron Rood statement!” (Naturalist, writer, and commentator Ron Rood was Jan’s father.)

• Donna Frost: “The secret? A good recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.”

• Bob Conlon: “Betsy and I really love each other a lot, but the real secret is to marry a woman who is better than you are.”

• Jacqueline P. Kelly: “There’s a joke about an elderly lady who was asked if she had ever considered divorce from her husband. She thought for a few minutes and answered, ‘Divorce, no. Murder, yes.’ There are moments in every marriage when things get tough. When that happens, you need to remember why you got married in the first place, and use that to get through the rough patches.”

• Jane Graham McCown: “The secret is a sense of humor and a short memory.”

• Nancy Hall: “We go camping and get away from all electronics. No phone, no TV, no computer. We recharge and re-center our lives.”

• Kathy Nowlan: “Honesty. Respectfulness. Humbleness. And faith.”

• Barbara Gaudreau: “Love sports.”

• Dorothy Lear: “My husband, Jim, and I are very different people, but we have always operated as a team — and we really enjoy each other’s company.”

• Kathie Taylor: “It’s not enough to love the person you’re with, you have to like them, too. My man is my best friend. Oh, and don’t forget: Always hold hands!”

• Gail Kindness Hurley: “I married the boy next door. When you think of it, we already knew each other’s families. We had the same friends — and we still have the same friends today. The secret is a good sense of humor, trust and forgiveness.”

• Leslie Kleh Broome: “My parents just hit 60 years this year. I think a large house helps — they can maintain separate sanities.”

• Lynn Barry: “Taking each other too seriously is not good for longevity in the marriage department. So, laugh. I mean it. Laugh out loud — a lot!”

• Roberta O’Hara: “The real secret to 40 years of marriage? Combine all the years from your three marriages.”

So, there you have it: Wisdom from the folks who have been married a lot of years — albeit, in some cases, to different people.

Now, go post your photos on Facebook. Happy Valentine’s Day.

(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on February 12, 2012. Chris’s new novel, “The Sandcastle Girls,” will be published by Doubleday on July 17.)

Chris Bohjalian
Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of eighteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Guest Room. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, and The Double Bind.

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