The Longest Marriages In History

When a couple gets married, they promise to stay together forever. These days, though, people know that's more of an aspiration than a binding legal contract. Plenty of marriages end in divorce, and even when the couple doesn't break up, eventually, death will do them part. Most couples would probably be thrilled to get a good half-century together. After all, 50 years is a long, long time to spend with one person. Think of how many times you would hear them tell the same story, or the number of nights you'd lie awake listening to their snoring, or how many holidays you'd have to spend with your mother-in-law.

But sometimes, a couple doesn't get divorced. And maybe both of them also end up being extremely long-lived. Add to all that they married young, and you have the perfect recipe for an extraordinarily long marriage. These are the couples that look at people celebrating their golden wedding anniversary and think, "Awww, look at the newlyweds, still in the honeymoon phase."

Wikipedia's thoroughly-sourced list of couples who made it past the 80-year mark is 35 entries long. All but two were married in the 20th century. As of this writing, four couples on the list have both partners still alive, which means that every day that passes adds to their count and their rankings could go up. But even on the shortlist of longest marriages, someone has to come out on top. Here are the longest marriages in history.

Maurice and Helen Kaye: 83 years, 330 days

You might think that when a couple lasts over 80 years together, their first meeting must have been earth-shaking love at first sight. Well, Helen Kaye had a much more pragmatic reason why she started going out with her future husband Maurice, as she told the BBC: "He had a car and in those days not very many people had cars, which made him interesting." Maurice had an equally dry sense of humor about their astonishing marriage, saying, "I didn't think it would last a week but it's amazing it's lasted 80 years."

The two met in a shop in England in 1929 when they were teenagers. They married four years later and went on to have four children. As for the secret to a happy marriage? Helen said, "You mustn't be hard on each other. And if you have to give in a little bit, you give in a little bit."

Maurice died in August 2018, according to the Bournemouth Daily Echo. Their daughter Tina told the paper that her mother was holding up, although it was hard for her to deal with. "My mother isn't too bad, but she feels sad and lonely and feels like she has lost a limb. They had been married for almost 84 years, but they had been together for 88 years from when they first started going out. It is a very long time to be with someone and then they are not there anymore."

Marco Milo and Pasqua Palmieri: 84 years, 24 days ... and counting

This couple has the distinction of being the only one on this list where both partners are still alive, which means that if they both keep trucking, they could move their way up. That is, as long as they don't decide that after eight and a half decades they can't stand the sight of each other anymore and get divorced.

Italian husband and wife Marco Milo and Pasqua Palmieri married in 1938, according to Canosa. She was a housewife and he joined the military. They had no children.

Their tip for a long life together basically boils down to faith or luck, depending on your spiritual outlook: "With the hand of God we have reached this age," Pasqua told La Repubblica. (All quotes have been translated from Italian.) Those ages, as of 2022, is 101 years old (Pasqua) and 104 years old (Marco). Of course, even with their seemingly superhuman ability to keep living, the arrival of Covid must have been concerning, especially when Italy was hit so badly with the pandemic early on. But Pasqua assured the interviewer that they were not living in fear. "We know nothing about Covid, when God wants he calls us and we are always ready." While this is the measured and pragmatic stance you might expect from someone who reached a century in age, her husband didn't agree with Pasqua's outlook. Marco said, "I'm fine, why should I go to the cemetery?"

Duranord and Jeanne Veillard: 85 years, 184 days

Duranord and Jeanne Veillard were both born in Haiti and began their marriage there. How did they meet? Jeanne joked to Lohud, "I found him in the street." However their meeting really happened, their love obviously endured for the next eight and a half decades. The couple got married in 1932, when both were in their early 20s. Duranord attended law school on the island and became a judge, while Jenanne raised their many children. (It's not clear how many they had, although Duranord's obituary in the Daily Voice mentions nine, five of whom he outlived.) When Duranord lost his job, the couple immigrated to the United States in the late 1960s, settling in New York State, where he took a job as a lab technician at a hospital. Eventually, their children joined them in the U.S.

At a party for his 108th birthday, Duranord and Jeanne were still affectionate, patting each other's hands. They were both housebound by that time, spending their days together napping, eating healthy, and enjoying their time together. They credit God with their longevity. Speaking of his father, their son Vely said, "He remembers everything. Look at him! He don't want to use a cane. He's a superstar."

Duranord died in 2018 at the astonishing age of 111. Six months later, Jeanne followed him, aged 108. "The queen has gone to meet her king," said one friend of the family, per Lohud.

John and Ann Betar: 85 years, 291 days

John Betar knew his future wife Ann was the one for him from the beginning, although it took her a little longer to feel the same. "I fell for her right away," he told ABC News. "I used to have a Ford Roadster and I used to pick her and her friends and drive them to high school. Gradually she liked me and we got together." Or at least, that's one version of the story. It turns out Ann was engaged to another man who her parents had picked out for her, but she decided to marry John instead. In 1932, they eloped. "At 17, you wonder if you're making the right choice," she said. "I had grown up with him and we had good times together and we knew each other very well. And it's turned out to be 80 years."

While their families were less than thrilled and some said it wouldn't work out, those 80 years were happy and led to five children, although two of them died before their long-lived parents. Their secret to staying together was simple. "Get along. Compromise. Live within your means and be content," Betar said, wisely adding, "And let your wife be the boss." Ann explained, "If you don't hold a grudge, you can face anything."

Ann's obituary on records that she died in 2019, just seven months after her husband of almost 86 years. She was 103 and he was 107.

Ralph and Dorothy Kohler: 86 years, 77 days

While many teenagers might find their families don't approve of them marrying so young, in Ralph and Dorothy Kohler's case, it was the government who told them they couldn't tie the knot. When they first applied for a marriage license in Nebraska in 1935, according to Live 5 News, the court clerk refused to approve it, citing their ages: Ralph was 18 and Dorothy was 17. While this must have disappointed them, they didn't let it stop them. The couple just went to another location and got approved there. They would go on to have three children.

The couple had all the standard tips for making a marriage work like compromise and not arguing. (They might have had "a sharp word once in a while maybe, but it didn't last," Ralph said.) But the real key seems to have been their belief in "togetherness." His hobby was clay target shooting, while Dorothy loved to ballroom dance. Instead of spending time apart, they simply each took up the other's hobby and got really, really good at both of them. They won "hundreds" of shooting and dancing awards during their marriage.

In 2020, the couple had been married for so many years that the U.S. Congress actually recognized their union as the longest one in the country at the time. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Dorothy died in December 2021 at the age of 102. Ralph followed her a month later, aged 104.

Liu Yung-yang and Yang-wan: 86 years

Taiwanese couple Liu Yung-yang and Yang-wan had, essentially, never known life without each other. The BBC reports that while they did not get married until their late teens, Yang-wan went to live with her future husband's family when she was five and he was six. Apparently, this was common in poor families on the island at the time. The Taipei Times says she would have been adopted by Yung-yang's family specifically with the intention of marrying the two eventually, and she would have been expected to help out with chores and in the fields. The couple wed in 1917.

While they might not have had any choice in this arranged marriage, they seem to have liked each other enough, if their number of progeny is anything to go by: They had a combined 110 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Yung-yang worked on the family farm, toiling in the fields until he was in his 80s, according to his family members.

In 2002, the Guinness Book of Records certified that the couple had the longest marriage in the world at the time, per the BBC. Less than a year later, after years of ill-health, Yang-wan died aged 103, from natural causes. It's not clear when Yung-yang died, although he has obviously passed away by now. No doubt he would have been happy to be reunited with the woman who had been by his side (and doing his chores for him) since he was a child.

Lazarus and Mary 'Molly' Rowe: 86 years

Owing to shorter life expectancies and shoddy record-keeping, it's uncommon for marriages from centuries past to qualify for the title of longest. However, while it might be hard to prove 100% how long they were married, at one point, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Lazarus and Mary Rowe as tied for the longest marriage in history, the Sun-Journal reported (via

The couple was married in Greenland, and if that didn't make proving their exact ages and marriage date difficult enough, whatever records there were burned up in a fire. At some point, the couple moved to what would eventually be the state of New Hampshire, before the U.S. was a country. Lazarus fought in the French and Indian war and apparently had some horrible experiences in battle, with reports that he "was taken captive and was once on the point of being burned to death by [Native Americans] when he escaped by an almost superhuman effort" and that "retained to his last days a vivid recollection of the terrific scenes" of battles and atrocities.

Sadly, a lot less is known about Mary's life, other than she was born the same year as her husband, got married at 18, and had a bunch of kids. Lazarus' obituary in the Connecticut Courant says they "saw their descendants of the fifth generation." It also reports that Mary died in 1829, with her husband following around six months later, aged 104.

Sir Temulji Bhicaji and Lady Nariman: 86 years

At one time, according to the Independent, the longest marriage on record was between Sir Temulji Bhicaji and Lady Nariman. The pair were married in India in 1853, when both were the astonishingly young age of 5 years old, per "Socio-political Dimensions of Modern India."

Sir Temulji attended medical school in Mumbai, where he was an exceptional student as well as a cricket player, "Medical Education in Western India: Grant Medical College and Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy's Hospital" records. He would go on to found the first maternity hospital in the city and become a well-known practitioner.

Astonishingly, for a man who was such an important name in the Indian medical community, virtually nothing appears to be known about his wife, at least when it comes to sources in English. She is referred to only as Lady Nariman, with "Lady" being the title she would have acquired when her husband was knighted, and not her first name. Other than that, information on her is limited to the fact she was her husband's cousin, and they were the same age. It's not even clear when she died, although it seems Temulji passed away first, as his death in 1940 is given as the end of their marriage. He was only 91, not near so long-lived as most of the other people on this list, meaning the Nariamans only qualified for membership in the longest marriages club because they were so young when they wed.

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher: 86 years, 290 days

The current official Guinness World Record holders for longest marriage are Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher. (However, there are still two entries on this list. You'll see why in a minute.) In 2011, the couple took questions on Twitter to celebrate Valentine's Day (via My Modern Met), letting people in on the secrets of their extremely long relationship. It turned out they had known each other all their lives and been good friends even before they became a couple and married in 1924. So perhaps it's unsurprising that when Herbert found himself without his wife for a little while, it almost broke him: "We were apart for two months when Z was hospitalized with our fifth child. It was the most difficult time of my life. Zelmyra's mother helped me with the house and the other children, otherwise I would have lost my mind."

They said those five children (plus their 10 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild) are what they were proudest of in their long lives. But they also enjoy the many decades as empty nesters, writing, "The children are grown, so we talk more now. We can enjoy our time on the porch or our rocking chairs–together." As for the secret of a lasting marriage? They said there isn't one, "we just did what was needed for each other and our family."

Herbert died in 2011, aged 105. Zelmyra would follow him two years later, when she was also 105.

K. Philipose and Sosamma Thomas: 88 years, 2 days

While Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher are the most officially official holders of the longest marriage title, two other couples who can't 100% prove their credentials are generally accepted as the two longest marriages of all time (that we know of). K. Philipose and Sosamma Thomas of India were married in a "typical Christian wedding" in 1918 at the age of 13 and 12 years old, respectively, according to Debating India. It's nice to think that all these long marriages were love matches, but their relationship was arranged for them by the "family patriarchs." Still, those guys must have known what they were doing, all things considered.

"After marriage I went to school and completed Class 9," Philipose said. Sadly, his wife would not be afforded the same educational experience once she was married. "She went to school till the following [Malayalam month of] Meenom." They wouldn't start having children for another 15 years, but once they did, they kept going until they had seven. Philipose worked as a farmer and government contractor.

Perhaps the most telling insight into their relationship is the answers they gave when asked if they fought much over the course of their long marriage. "Never," Philipose said firmly. "A lot," Sosamma countered. Maybe the long-marriage runners-up really are just like everyone else when it comes to their relationship dynamics.

Sosamma died in 2006, at the age of 101, Kerala News reported, ending the couple's incredible streak.

Karam and Kartari Chand: 90 years, 291 days

Despite not being able to prove the length of their union to Guinness World Record standards, the longest-known marriage goes to Karam and Kartari Chand, who made it almost 91 years. Considering that's a decade or two longer than most people even live, it's a really astonishing feat. According to the BBC, it's believed Karam was born in 1905 and Kartari in 1912, in a rural area of India. They were married in 1925, and moved to England 40 years later.

Like many who reach a super old age, Karam swore there was nothing to it. "Eat and drink what you want but in moderation. I have never held back from enjoying my life," he said. When they celebrated their 86th wedding anniversary, the couple were lauded in the press, but they took it in stride. Kartari said, "We know that being married for 86 years is a blessing, but equally we will be ready to go when it's time, it's all up to the will of God, but we really have lived a good life." Their son Satpal (one of their 8 children) agreed, saying, "Breaking records is not so important to us, it's all about living together as one family and respecting each other's values. If my mother and father are record breakers, then they've made us even more proud of them than we already are."

Karam died in 2016, six weeks before he would have turned 111, the Telegraph and Argus reported.