By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – “Til death do us part.”

That’s the vow most couples take when they get married. But unfortunately, things change and many marriages break up.

Jim and Annie Murphy of Milton have been happily married 57 years.

Annie laughingly admits they fight a lot, but says it’s important to get those differences out, and then make up.

That’s one of the ways they keep their marriage strong.

They also say they always faced their challenges, including raising five children, as a team.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben Reports

“It’s been great, honestly,” said Jim. “I wouldn’t change one minute to be honest with you.”

Dr. Charles Foster of the Chestnut Hill Institute says couples can improve their chance of success if they remember five letters.

Start with the letter “A” for acceptance.

“You find little things that annoy you. You struggle against that, and you get mad about it, hoping to change it. Those acceptance battles, which is experienced by the other person as a rejection, are very very destructive,” explained Foster.

The next step is another “A” affection.

“When we are in a courtship, we are very affectionate. When we are married we are busy and busyness drives out affection, busyness and stress,” said Foster.

Couples also have to make sure they’re truly paying attention to their partner.

“In a courtship, you had the wonderful experience of feeling that the other person was absolutely riveted by you,” said Foster.

Even as a marriage matures, remember the letter “F” which stands for fun.

“If you are not having fun, then you are doing something seriously wrong,” according to Foster

Finally, don’t forget another “F”, which should remind you of forgiveness.

“Any two people who have been together for any length of time have done things to hurt each other,” explained Foster. “It creates distance, hurt, anger, and those things corrupt a relationship.”

Jim and Annie might not think of the key to happiness as a string of letters, but as a way of life.

Annie said you have to be prepared to go through a lot of good and bad times.

“That’s it,” she said. “And you get over it.”

If a marriage is going to have a problem, research shows there is some truth to the seven year itch. That is the time span when most failed marriages fall apart.

Comments (7)
  1. jaygee says:

    How very sweet. Only problem is that half of all marriages end in divorce which should explain that some couples form a life long bond and some don’t. The 50% divorce rate doesn’t even consider the unhappy marriages that remain for the sake of the kids or many other reasons. Too many individuals just don’t give it time and then find out that rather getting married by a judge, they should have asked for a jury. Getting married is very much like going to a restaurant with friends. You order what you want, then when you see what the other persons got, you wish you ordered that.

  2. Willow says:

    Just my opinion, but in order to form a life long bond, be prepared to say, “I’m sorry,” often, and learn to forgive. Your partner is human and will ultimately let you down. Above all, don’t practice selfishness, but selflessness. That can be done if Jesus is the focal point of your marriage. I truly believe that marriage takes “three.” Not a sermon, just my opinion.

    1. Father John says:

      So I have to assume that you suggest non-Christians make “Jesus” the focal point of their marriage? I don’t think that Jews, Muslims and every other non-Christian group would embrace your thoughts. How about all of the Christians who get married 2 or 3 times after promising on the alter that they would remain with the person they married the first time. I won’t even get into the fact that if one mate is too religious, that can also end a marriage.

  3. Bridget says:

    I think today it seems to be more about ‘the party’ and less about the seriousness of mating for a lifetime, through good, bad and the ugly. When the blush is off the rose, so to speak, that’s when the core, similar values i.e. content of character, financial views, and values become very significant. I think being each other’s best friend, based on love and respect is key to working together in tandem through good and bad. I’m reminded of the saying “When you are up to your hips in alligators, it’s difficult to remember you went in to drain the swamp”.

  4. Scott Colbert says:

    Don’t you mean five words? Not five letters…

  5. Scott Colbert says:

    ok nevermind, letters is correct. Just gets confusing because you say “til death do us part” which was five words lol. Maybe I should read the article first haha.

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