(Yahoo!) – Cliché sayings about how to get and stay married abound: Opposites attract, don’t go to bed angry, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Many have been repeated so often that they’ve lost whatever power they once had, and when yet another guru professes to know the secret to making love last, we’re doubtful that person will offer something new. Karl Pillemer, PhD, is a little different from most relationship experts; instead of advancing his personal opinions, he draws on the collective wisdom gleaned from thousands of combined years of long-term partnerships.
Dr. Pillemer is a gerontologist, and he says that to write his book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage, he interviewed “700 people, married on average 43 years, [from] all walks of life, all races, all ethnic groups, including long-term same-sex couples.” In doing so, Dr. Pillemer attempted to create a road map for relationships that last a lifetime.
“People forget that it’s only been in the last hundred years or so that people have gone to anyone other than the oldest person they knew for advice about love and marriage,” Dr. Pillemer points out when we ask him to guide us through his research. “I had been a gerontologist, and I was hit by a revelation: For 25 years, all I had done was to study the problems of old people — Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, nursing homes — and that’s what our society does, too.” Instead of focusing only on these struggles, Dr. Pillemer thought, why not tap the oldest Americans for the unparalleled insight they could provide younger generations?