The secret to lifelong love

The secret to lifelong love May 8, 2014

Harold and Louise are an extraordinary couple. My wife, Ashley, and I had the privilege of meeting them at a recent marriage conference we were hosting, and we were instantly drawn to them. There was a sparkle in their eyes and an adoration they obviously had for one another. They couldn’t help themselves from smiling every time their eyes met. Even though they were both in their seventies, they acted like two teenagers in love.

I spent as much time around them as I could that weekend, because I wanted to learn the “secret” of their lifelong love. I wanted know how their love had grown richer with time, and how even through painful setbacks in Louise’s health, they both remained joyful, optimistic, and passionately devoted to one another.

I asked them, “How have you remained so much in love after all these years? What’s the secret?”

Louise responded by sharing a story with us which gave us a glimpse into their relationship. She said, “Our first date was on March 17, so on April 17, Harold brought me a long stem rose to celebrate our one month anniversary. I was genuinely impressed by his thoughtfulness, but I didn’t expect the roses to come very often. I was so surprised when he brought me another rose on May 17 to celebrate our second month together. I smiled and thought, ‘Wow! This fella is a keeper!’

She looked at Harold with a smile and continued her story. “After we got married, I expected the roses to stop, but on the 17th that first month of our marriage, another rose appeared.”

She paused to squeeze Harold’s hand and tears began to form in her eyes as she smiled and said, “It has been fifty-four years since our first date, and every month on the seventeenth for 648 months in a row, Harold has brought me a rose.”

As she finished her story, I was simultaneously inspired by their love story and at the same time feeling like a jerk for having never done anything for Ashley that could match that level of consistent thoughtfulness. Harold definitely challenged me to raise the bar in my own marriage! I obviously couldn’t build a time machine and go back to the beginning to start that type of tradition, but I can (and you can too) start today to bring more thoughtfulness and romance to the marriage.

Harold and Louise would be quick to tell you it takes a lot more than roses to build a strong, lifelong marriage. The flowers weren’t really even the point of their story; it was the thoughtfulness behind the flowers.

As I spend time with couples who have successfully loved each other for decades. I’m convinced their “secret” is really no secret at all. Lifelong love is a simple choice put into action by consistently serving, encouraging, supporting and adoring each other.

Dave Willis marriage quote

Make those simple-but-powerful acts of love a priority in your marriage and you’ll be writing a happy ending to your own love story.

For more tools to help you build a lifelong love with your spouse, please check out my bestselling book, “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” which is now available on iTunes as an ebook download for iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices.

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  • douglas

    I absolutely love this simple yet eternally profound love tip.How amazing and challenging at the same time. I am in a young relationship with my girl Dorine and I love her to bits. It is true tis not so much about roses,but roses show care and thoughtfulness. I have to definitely up my love game.


  • Nour

    I really liked it , it’s amazing how the married couple could love each other all through decades and still have these feelings for each other

  • Cathy Maddox

    Hi Dave,

    Recently, my Church did some Inspirational Educational Classes for Adults. I was asked to lead a class to Inspire Marriages. Of course, I looked to you and your materials because I truly believe you have a gift to insight in this area. After the class, everyone agreed that your material was helpful, insightful and inspirational. I was able to witness some of what you get to see everyday with your mission to help married couples rebuild and rekindle marriages. It was magnificent!!!!!! One of the areas I was a little lost on (and I am hoping you can help me with this one) was marriages in the “empty nesting” phase. I had several couples feeling their connection wasn’t as strong now that their children weren’t their unified focus. Their question was, “How do we learn to reconnect after the kids are gone?”

    Please help!!!

    Thank you for all your amazing inspiration!!! You have personally helped my marriage grow to a beautiful place. Which I did not think was possible 5 years ago. Please know all your hard work is worth it and we are grateful you “kept going!”

  • Adrian

    I have to figure a way to show ways to my husband guys don’t like roses like women do lol but I am wondering from a males view what would be good to give him? from a womans view and reading this I honestly got emotional and instead of saying I wish I could get something like this from my husband I am going to do it for him. one can only hope it will work. I haven’t got flowers from my husband in a year…it is so hard doing and showing what that persons means to you alone and how much you want them to see how much you love them. it is so hard emotionally and mentally spiritually God is helping me through all I can do to show my husband what my heart holds inside for him. its in times when you feel defeated, you feel like you just want to stop, you just want them to try in return for once, to give you a chance at what you want to show them…it is in those times you break down pleading and praying that you come across a post like this and you want to give it a try just one more time and see if this will work instead. marriage is hard and it is extremely tough doing so much for the other person, to meet their needs to express what a man needs and needs to hear.. you almost feel like your doing it alone, in your heart you don’t want to give up but tempted to cause it isn’t going the way you thought it would. I am not giving up on my husband or my marriage but at this point I have to release him and myself to God because I do not want to cry anymore we are currently expecting our 4th child in feb. I have prayed in the beginning of the pregnancy asking God to show me how to be a more loving, respectful, understanding, serving, and Godly wife that God is asked of us to be and He has showed me many ways, I’ve listened acted on them, and I’ve expressed it to my husband. Some days I see the change and then most of the time it goes away or no effort for him to try. I’ve communicated to him telling him we as women crave and have needs to that need to be met. Your post on Fb and on here have really helped me a lot, you and your wife inspire me in many ways and keep my hope alive in my marriage. at this point though I don’t know how much more I can keep doing on my own with the Grace of God. I pray over him every day and every night, I will continue to do so even if I get pushed away or told no. I know that God does not like divorce and I have no desire for one. I don’t think my husband does either but he wont re marry or renew our vows with me. ive asked him many times if he would he usually doesn’t answer or changes the subject. it is moments like these and I ask why am I trying? what am I doing this for? why keep doing and showing all he means to you? you start to wonder if your are all he wants he says you are but then says things like that. marriage is hard and more than anything I’ve asked God to keep us strong and together I want my marriage to work. So this post has inspired me to try again. The hardest thing to do it to let your Husband go and release him to God (I don’t even know if you should) but you get to a point you have to let God work on him in His time. So I hope I can find a good way to do this for my husband cause guys don’t like roses lol. please pray for my Husband (frank) and I. we have been married 8 years dating for 13 years. we are high school sweet hearts he is 30 I am 29. we have 3 kids together and one on the way. more than anything I know God can see what my husband means to me and how much I love him and want our marriage to work, our relationship, our love for each other to grow. I can’t do it alone and feeling like I am the only one trying to make it work. it is hard. Now some days you can just see he wants to express himself you can just see it in his eyes. I know this to shall pass and ill look back at this moment in our relationship and think man that was so tough to do alone. some how I know I will get through this. I am hoping this is a normal phase in a 30 year old man to go through. I cannot wait for it to pass if so.