By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

Every once in awhile you meet extraordinary people! We had that great pleasure recently in Long Beach, California. Our lives will never be the same! We looked in the faces of love and saw an extraordinary marriage! We have seen this look before, but this one was very special!

Jerry and Elena Marty have been married for 41 years. And their life together has been anything but ordinary. You see, Jerry and Elena, these two lovebirds, have actually lived on the 5th largest continent on Earth – Antarctica!

We know, we know, nobody lives in Antarctica except the penguins! Well, guess again. Elena and Jerry lived there! They lived there together for six months in the early 70’s during the Austral Summer.

The truth is this – there are people who live and work in Antarctica in the American presence. Most are scientists, US military personnel, or the people who support them.

At the McMurdo Station, for example, some 2500 people work there during the Austral Summer (October through February). The Austral Summer is the warmest part of the year in Antarctica. This is the period when the wildlife are out in full force, including the penguins.

In fact, December and January are the warmest months in Antarctica. But the truth is, brrrrrrrrr is still the order of the day, even during the Austral Summer. The 5th largest continent is, without a doubt, the coldest place on Earth. Make no mistake about that.

A special treat for us is that by interviewing Jerry and Elena, we have now interviewed successfully married couples who have LIVED on all SEVEN of the world’s continents. And we would dare say, we are the only people on Earth who can lay claim to that accomplishment!

Now, back to Jerry and Elena. Jerry supervised the building of the New South Pole Station. He and his amazing crew completed this incredible project in 2008 after 15 years of work. They honored him not with an Arch of Swords Ceremony, but with an Arch of Tape-Measures! It was by all accounts an emotional tribute that culminated his 20 years with the Antarctic program.

What Jerry, as the Senior Project Management Representative and National Science Foundation’s South Pole Station Representative, and those who were part of the project team did, was do the impossible in the coldest place on Earth under the most extreme conditions on Earth. This is no small accomplishment and Jerry is no ordinary man.

And Jerry is married to no ordinary woman! Elena is his Rock of Gibraltar. Shoot, we have seen a photo of this fearless woman moving a downed C-130 Hercules aircraft with a forklift in Antarctica in the 1975. Back then women were not considered part of the norm in Antarctica, unlike now when one-third of the positions in Antarctica are filled by women. How could you not love a woman who accomplished such an historical feat?

During our recent videotaped interview of them in their home for our new documentary entitled, In Search of Great Marriages Around the World, we were blown away by their intense love for each other. The long-term success of their marriage is even more remarkable when you take into consideration the extreme circumstances of their four-decade marriage. Jerry and Elena are very much in love, there is no question about that.

In fact, out of the thousands of successfully married couples we have interviewed around the world, Jerry and Elena are among a handful of couples over these past 30+ years who have scored a near-perfect score on our Marriage Interview Protocol. When we interviewed them we were astounded by the quality and success of their marriage. They are a marriage to emulate – to model a great marriage after. Their marriage is truly one for the ages.

The support they demonstrate for each other is apparent even to the casual observer. You can hear it as they talk about their move back to California just so Elena could be close to their children and grandchildren after all of the years of traveling and working in distant lands. The thought of Jerry commuting to Washington DC for work didn’t even faze them as they made plans to put down stable roots in a place where their extended family could finally be together.

Elena’s artistic talent is highly respected by Jerry, as he brags about her uniquely beautiful jewelry and the paintings she creates. Each masterpiece is a work of art to be worn or seen by only the fortunate ones who are lucky enough to lay claim to Elena’s artistic work. Photographs of her artistry are taken to capture the design for all to see. This is a great example of how loving couples support their partners!

And now that Jerry is going back to the Ice (Antarctica) in November, they have more issues to work out in their support for each other. As they deal with another chapter of their lives together that includes long separations and incredible challenges, Jerry and Elena just take it in stride because they know what really matters is their love for each other. No wonder their marriage has been so successful.

Their advice to young married couples is this - - always remember why you married your spouse in the first place. Keep the flame alive! The journey for couples in love should be a wonderful experience even with all its twists and turns.

Your relationship will change as you move through life (i.e., employment/career changes, children, financial status, where you reside, sex, health, success, failure, education, tragedy, etc.).

You need to remember that you and your partner are in this together. It’s OK to not have all the solutions, and it will not always be a perfect nor an easy journey. Your dedication to each other makes sharing life together worthwhile, through the good times as well as the challenges. That’s why you got married in the first place!

Jerry and Elena often say, “Life is what happens when you have made other plans.” We couldn’t have said it any better.

We are proud and pleased to say that Jerry and Elena reflect what we have discovered during our three decades of research about successful marriage and reported in our book, Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley). If you want to know what we have learned from successfully married couples around the world like Jerry and Elena, read our book. Their marriage is a “perfect score” when it comes to what really matters in a marriage.

In love and marriage the simple things matter.

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

For marriage advice and hundreds of practical tips, get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts : The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book

Author's Bio: 

As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With 30 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 45-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.

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