Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It seems like an impossible quest.

You might know one or two couples who somehow like each other after 10 or 20 years, but you've seen too many divorces and too much constant bickering.

And hey, you're still only 17.

Many believe, though, that family stability can contribute enormously to success in other areas of life. 

If you have a solid foundation at home, you just might be able to focus happily on such areas as corporate climbing, fake-faced networking and other types of scheming vital to rising high in capitalist organizations. (Socialist ones, too.)

So what does it take to have a long, happy marriage? And how do you know when you've got there?

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley were desperate to find out.

So they tracked the emotional interactions between older married couples for 13 years. Each of these couples had been married for 15 to 35 years. 

Surely this would have been like watching a soap opera for 13 years. Or The Affair on Showtime.

Like that show, marriages seem to start brightly and then devolve into nasty confrontations between very fine actors.

Until the show becomes unwatchable.

What the researchers found -- and you'll see it in The Affair on occasion -- is that the longer a marriage lasts, the more the spats subside. 

Joyously, the spats are replaced by humor and fondness. In essence, say the researchers, if you get to this advanced stage of marriage, you'll find that your mental health is really quite sprightly.

Robert Levenson, a UC Berkeley psychology professor -- and the study's senior author -- put it like this:

Our findings shed light on one of the great paradoxes of late life. Despite experiencing the loss of friends and family, older people in stable marriages are relatively happy and experience low rates of depression and anxiety. Marriage has been good for their mental health.

I'd always assumed that marriage made men happier and healthier and women more sick and miserable.

Here, the researchers say that in these longer marriages women showed more "domineering" qualities and a little less affection over time.

In general, however, negative emotions subsided on both sides, to be replaced by a lot more giggling.

Of course, you have to want to get there. I wrote about some ways to do that here.

I can't speak about any of this with personal experience, having only this year got married for the first time.

However, telling couples to hang in there -- as this research seems to -- is a tricky affair.

We live in a world where few promises are kept and change is a painful, allegedly necessary, constant.

It's good to know that it's possible to achieve happiness in later life with someone whom you rather liked in earlier life.

I still worry.

What will happen when science prolongs lives by another 50 percent?

Who'll be laughing then? 

Published on: Dec 6, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.