Posted on: August 6, 2020 at 4:03 pm

Many of us dream of having that magical romance, that long-lasting steadfast love to have with us for the rest of our lives. A relationship like that, however, can be extraordinarily difficult to find, and most of us have to go through a series of heartbreaks and mistakes before we find it- if we ever do.

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Celebrity relationships can be even more fleeting than most with unions beginning and ending seemingly every day. 

For this reason, when a celebrity couple manages to stay together and remain hopelessly in love for their entire lives, they are celebrated and revered like no other couple out there. 

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There is no better example of one of these rare couples than the marriage between Johnny Cash and June Carter.

A Love Story for the Ages

Johnny Cash and June Carter were arguably the most iconic couple in country music history. The pair were allegedly introduced by none other than Elvis Presley and were married 1968. Unlike the majority of celebrity marriages, they remained together for the next forty years, until they both passed away in 2003 [1].

Throughout both of their careers, much of their music was inspired by their love for each other, and the love letter that Johnny wrote to June on her 65th birthday was voted the greatest love letter of all time [2].

In the letter Cash wrote:

“You’re the object of my desire, the #1 earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much. We got old and got used to each other. We think alike. We read each others [sic] minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes we take each other for granted. But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.” [1]

Johnny Cash described their love as unconditional, and that the love between them was “the real thing”.

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“She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself,” the singer once said. “She has saved my life more than once. She’s always been there with her love, and it has certainly made me forget the pain for a long time, many times. When it gets dark and everybody’s gone home and the lights are turned off, it’s just me and her.” 

Their Later Years

In the later years of their lives, Cash had experienced declining health and was in a wheelchair. It was Carter to go first, however, when complications due to heart surgery caused the 73-year-old to slip into a coma.

During that time, Cash, who was 71, spoke with her, sang songs, and read psalms to her every thirty minutes, in hopes that it would heal her. Carter did not make it, and a grief-stricken Cash began to deteriorate even more. 

According to his daughter, Cash would sob for her every day, and would even pick up the phone and talk to her as if she was on the other end of the line. A few months later, the country legend died of respiratory failure, but the legacy of the pairs unwavering love continues to inspire people today [1].

What Makes a Successful Union?

What makes a successful partnership between two people? Is it being friends with your spouse above anything else? Planning regular date nights with your significant other? Or maybe smoking weed with your partner

There are thousands upon thousands of videos, articles, and books out there filled with advice about how to have a successful union with another. Countless interviews have been done with other successful celebrity couples as well as ordinary couples whose marriages have stood the test of time, and even divorcees who wish they could’ve done things differently.

According to psychologists, there are several factors that predict a healthy, successful union between two people, and they can be broken down into three categories: Historical factors, predisposing factors, and process factors.

Historical Factors

This includes things like growing up in a happy, functional family with parents who provide a good marital and sexual example for their children, as well as having two parents who both functioned well psychologically. 

Many people don’t consider how their childhoods might have affected them, but research has shown again and again that individuals who grew up with a good example of what a functional and happy partnership looks like are more likely to have one themselves one day [3].

Predisposing Factors

Couples who are at least 21 and not pregnant when they are married, and who decide to get married not for negative reasons like fear of loneliness, parental or peer pressure, or to rescue a floundering life, are more likely to have a successful relationship.

Other predisposing factors that contribute to a successful union include knowing your partner for at least one year before marrying them, having commonalities in terms of socio-economic status, race, religion, and education, and discussing life organization issues like work, money, children, and where you’re going to live.

Couples who have the support of family and friends tend to be more successful, and couples who share all important life information with each other and who don’t have any major secrets between them are more likely to last [3].

Process Factors

Process factors refer to how the couple operates within the relationship. It is important for two people to have a mutually agreed upon style for handling differences and conflicts, and that both people are able to maintain positive and realistic personal and marital expectations.

A marital bond built on respect, trust, and intimacy that grows stronger over the first two years of marriage is also more likely to continue than those that struggle in the first years [3].

You will often hear people say “marriage takes work”, and while this is true, the work involved in marriage is not like the work involved with doing chores or other tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy. The work that goes into a happy, functional, and fulfilling marriage should, for the most part, be fun and fulfilling.

Traits of a Successful Union

The following is a list of traits that have been rated as important for a successful union with another:

1. Independence

you cannot be happy in a relationship without first being happy with yourself. It is important for both people in the relationship to continue developing their own interests and hobbies outside of their partnership.

2. Listening

Being a good listener is extremely important, and you can’t have a good relationship without creating a platform for healthy conversation. Listening is a key component to a productive conversation.

3. Agree to disagree

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. The important thing is that each person respects the point of view of the other, and can even maintain a sense of humor over their points of contention.

4. Know each other’s “love language”

everybody understands love in a slightly different way, and needs something different from their partner. Some people need to hear words of affirmation, some need touch, some like gifts, and some need to see acts of love. The reality is, most people need two or three things from that list. Make sure you know what your partner needs from you in order to feel secure in the relationship and be sure to give it to them.

Take responsibility: Neither of you is going to be perfect all the time. The important thing is that when you make a mistake, you own it and apologize for it.

5. Keep romance and intimacy alive

It’s easy to fall into patterns or ruts when you become comfortable with someone, so it’s important to continue to put effort into your relationship. That could mean date nights, surprise gifts, or anything that lets the other person know you love them.

6. Don’t fall into the fantasy

We are sold the idea of “happy ever after”, and unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Even the best unions will go through rough patches, but it is important during those times to not take each other for granted, to remind yourself why you fell in love with that person in the first place, and to communicate openly with each other in order to work through the hard times [4].

Relationships are not always easy, but the right one can last a lifetime and bring endless joy and love into your life. Couples like Johnny Cash and June Carter are a beautiful inspiration, and remind us that true love can happen- but not without a little effort.

Keep Reading: Longest-married presidential couple Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate historic 74th anniversary

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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