17 Pieces of Relationship Advice From Happily Married Couples

Over the last month, I asked every married couple I met for one piece of relationship advice. Here are the results.

We watch movies of couples falling in love and growing old together. We tweet quotes about relationships, Tumblr gifs of “that scene” from The Notebook and always coo “I want what they have” when we see an older couple in the park holding hands like they’re still 14 years old. But what does it really take to make a relationship work?

As someone who is recently engaged, I wanted to know these couples’ secrets. We live in a world where millennial “love” is the instantaneous pleasure of Tinder. Where most of our parents or family members are divorced, separated, or hate each other from different floors of the house. And yet there are couples that still make it. There are couples that fight for their relationship every day. These are the couples that should inspire us.

1. “Let go of the little things.”
—Couple married 46 years

2. “So what if it’s the same story?! Listen anyway!”
—Couple married 42 years

3. “It won’t always be pretty, but remember how you feel right now.”
—Couple married 30 years

4. “Phones down during dates! Nothing is as important as the one in front of you.”
—Couple married 5 years

5. “Don’t let the kids distract you; they leave you eventually.”
—Couple married 20 years

6. “It’s an ebb & flow. There will be times when you’re the pillar—emotionally and financially. And there will be times when he is.”
—Couple married 2 years

7. “Don’t hurt each other intentionally during a fight.”
—Couple married 14 years

8. Her: “Be honest.” Him: “Brutally honest.”
—Couple married 7 years

9. “You’re going to disagree, but don’t think you’re always going to see eye to eye. Make sure you understand where the other is coming from.”
—Couple married 23 years

10. “On your wedding day, take moments for just one another. Leave the room, find somewhere private, and just embrace the day. Those are the moments you will most remember.”
—Couple married 6 years (and celebrating their anniversary the day I asked)

11. “Laugh, a lot. Don’t take it all so seriously.”
—Couple married 25 years (it was their anniversary when I asked!)

12. “Trust and forgiveness. We, as humans, all have the capacity to love and when we can forgive, it’s an angst lifted from us.”
—Couple married 40 years

13. “Take interest in their daily lives.”
—Couple married 27 years

14. “Date nights are a must.”
—Couple married 11 years

15. “Keep each other’s goals in mind.”
—Couple married 3 years

16. “Leave little reminders of how much you love each other.”
—Couple married 26 years

17. “Don’t let it fizzle; any of it.”
—Couple married 49 years