Half of today’s marriages end in divorce, and the average length are just seven years. The odds are against us if we want a long lasting, “till death do us part” marriage. Still, I believe it’s possible.

My grandparents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They’ve been through half a dozen wars, one son, five grandkids, deaths of parents, siblings and friends, hard work, retirement, half a dozen homes, and as many cars. What’s the secret? Where’s the manual?

There are lots of books written by so-called “experts” on how to have successful marriages. Dr. John Gray, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, says one of the secrets is good comm-unication. OK, good advice. But John Gray is on his second marriage.

Mark and Chrissy Donnelly, in their essay Fifty Ways to Love Your Partner say, “Love yourself first, start each day with a hug, serve breakfast in bed, and say I love you every time you part ways.” There are 46 more rules.

Great suggestions; love the idealism, but these aren’t realistic. Couples will fall in and out of love. They will fight and disagree. They will get mad, sad, depressed, jealous and angry. They may even hate each other. We won’t always start each day with a hug and the words, “I love you.”

While the ‘experts’ give lots of great advice, I wanted the real secrets to a long marriage from the real experts!

170 years of expertise between three couples sat at the head table at my grandparents’ anniversary dinner. Fuskako and Hideo have been married 56 years. Miyoko and Francis have been together 54 years, and of course, Phillip and Dorothy (my grandparents) just celebrated 60. Here’s their “manual” to a long and successful marriage:

  Don’t talk back and be patient

  Go to Vegas a few times a year

  Have similar religion/spiritual beliefs

  Have different roles, “He takes care of the yard and I do the house-work, but he does the ‘big stuff’ and vacuuming is considered big stuff

  Say ‘yes’ to whatever she says

  Raising your children and grandchildren

  Eat good food together

  Laugh plenty

  Respect and accept the other for who they are

  Pick your battles. Most arguments aren’t worth it

  It’s OK to fight, couples do that

  Bottom line–divorce is not an option

Love each other, hate each other; In the end, what’s really important when you look back at your life? Family, friends, birthdays, births, graduations, weddings and anniversaries. All the other ‘stuff’ isn’t important. Congratulations Grandma & Grandpa. You are my inspiration.

Melisa Uchida is the news director for Rory Wild and the Wake Up Crew on Hot 93.9 FM, weekday mornings 5:30-10 a.m. Reach her at melisauchida@earthlink.net