Thu, 30 Jan 2014 06:00:00 GMT | By Hugh Wilson

How to stay together forever (by the people who've done it)

The secret to a happy marriage might be arguing well and staying friends...


Married elderly couple clasping hands [Jeffrey Coolidge-Getty Images] (© Jeffrey Coolidge-Getty Images)

The other day a couple celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary and revealed the secret to their long and happy marriage.

It’s arguing.

Yep, Kath and Bill Shevels, both 91, reckon they’ve had 25,550 disagreements so far, which equates to about one argument a day.

Mrs Shevels said: “You have got to get everything out in the open and take the bad with the good...We've lasted 70 years, we must be getting something right.”

So are good, air-clearing rows really the secret to a lasting relationship? We discover what science - has to say on the matter.

Couple arguing (© anzeletti-Getty Images)

Is a good row the key to a happy relationship?

According to research published earlier this year, the bickering-but-long-married couple described above may be the exception rather than the norm.

The research, carried out by psychologists at San Francisco State University, found that, although young couples tended to argue, happy couples later find ways of avoiding arguments rather than becoming confrontational. As their relationships mature, they evolve strategies for avoiding rows.

In fact, what successful older couples routinely do is change the subject, the researchers said, steering conversations away from toxic areas before arguments break out.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Holley said that over time both husbands and wives “increased their tendency to demonstrate avoidance during conflict”.

So despite the experience of Kath and Bill, after the extreme emotions present in the early years of any relationship, learning to avoid full-on conflict - most of the time at least - may be one key to a lasting relationship.

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