The Scoop: Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz began researching long-term relationships over 40 years ago to determine whether couples in successful marriages shared any common characteristics or practices. These academics immersed themselves in a world of data and have become experts in the hallmarks of long-term relationship success. Over the course of their careers, the two have authored self-help books, appeared on TV segments, and published over 1,100 informative articles about love, marriage, and communication. They have also been married for over 55 years.
Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz have appeared as relationship experts in over 250 radio and television segments. In 2010, a WGN TV news segment in Chicago invited them to discuss what makes marriage last.
Asked to describe their core relationship tenets, the marriage experts pointed to the importance of clear communication and respect. They explained that a relationship is always a work in progress, and that no marriage is ever perfect.
One of the reporters on a panel at the event quipped, “Do you fight?”
Charles and Elizabeth glanced at each other and laughed. Of course, they fight! It’s natural to disagree with loved ones now and again. These well-versed relationship experts explained that happy married couples have learned to disagree while expressing compassion, commitment, and care.
“All happily married couples argue,” Charles told us. “It’s not a question of do you argue — it’s a question of how you argue.”
After decades of thorough research and firsthand experience, Charles and Elizabeth have the knowledge to help people improve and strengthen their relationships.
Charles and Elizabeth reveal hundreds of simple secrets to achieve a lasting marriage in their book, “In Marriage Simple Things Matter.” The authors draw from real-life stories they’ve collected on their travels, and they offer statistics to back up their relationship tips. The book has been called “the encyclopedia of love” because it outlines the qualities of strong relationships in clear and practical terms.
In addition to their books and publications, Charles and Elizabeth have written many free blog articles that synthesize the findings of their decades-long research. SimpleThingsMatter.com makes vital relationship knowledge more accessible and digestible to couples everywhere.
“We have a lot of fun. Every day is a whole new adventure with us, and that’s the way it’s always been,” Charles said. “There’s lots of excitement in our relationship. We’re always going places, doing things.”
A Well-Traveled Couple Provide Research-Based Advice
After graduating at the top of his high school class, Charles Schmitz attended the University of Missouri-Columbia in the 1960s. One night, he was waiting for his buddies outside a residence hall when Elizabeth walked by and caught his attention. She was tall and lovely. He spied her multiple times on campus until he finally worked up the courage to ask her on a date.
She said no because she was dating someone else at the time. Charles was disappointed, but his friends encouraged him to try again. A few weeks later, he invited Elizabeth to a party at his apartment. She agreed, and they ended up having a long conversation while sitting next to each other on a couch.
Elizabeth talked about what it was like growing up in a big city in Southern California where she went to high school with teenagers who would later become members of the Beach Boys. She was a champion swimmer with many wonderful stories and experiences. Meanwhile, Charles was raised in a Central Missouri town with a population of 621 people. Despite their different backgrounds, the couple found plenty of common ground. They not only rooted for the same baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), they also had similar academic interests and hobbies.
The couple began dating after that night, and they were married in 1966.
Charles and Elizabeth both received their doctorate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and then Charles spent four decades as a university professor. In 1981, he and his wife embarked on an extensive research project to uncover the truth behind prosperous marriages.
As part of their research, Charles and Elizabeth have gone on safari in Africa, watched penguins in Antarctica, and visited Stonehenge. Their travels have allowed them to meet and learn from successful married couples who have spent upward of 30 years together.
Today, Charles and Elizabeth have published over 1,100 articles (including 71 scholarly articles in professional journals), given over 930 public speeches and presentations, and written 172 research reports. They have also co-authored 16 books and monographs. And, throughout it all, they never lost sight of their love for one another.
“We should have been so different but we were so much alike. Heck, we were peas in a pod,” Charles said. “I’m a small-town Missouri guy who married a California surfer girl,” Charles said, “and lived happily ever after.”
Interviewing Thousands of Couples Around the World
While working as a professor at the University of Missouri, Charles had the opportunity to run a workshop for couples. A doctoral student asked him if he’d like to run a marriage counseling session for local farmers and their significant others. Always up for an adventure, Charles and his wife traveled to Jefferson City to teach participants how to foster communication, trust, and intimacy.
Many of the participants praised Elizabeth for sharing nuggets of wisdom. After the workshop, Charles and Elizabeth decided to pursue a research project on the topic of love and marriage.
Charles and Elizabeth started with a simple research question: Are long marriages necessarily happy marriages? And, if not, what defines a successful marriage?
They conducted 30-minute interviews with married couples in an effort to pinpoint the determining factors for successful marriages. They talked to couples who have been together for decades and come from many different walks of life. To date, Charles and Elizabeth have interviewed couples in 56 countries on all seven continents.
Over time, Charles and Elizabeth began to see a pattern emerge, and they identified seven qualities that they say define a happy, successful, and long marriage.
“The couples we’ve met and interviewed are absolutely amazing,” Elizabeth said. “They’ve given this wonderful insight to us, and we give it to readers.”
Charles and Elizabeth said they have spoken to people of all faiths, ethnicities, and orientations, and they have concluded that the fundamentals of happy relationships are consistent no matter who you are or where you live.
You can read about their takeaways in their award-winning books and the love and marriage articles on their website. SimpleThingsMatter.com is a free resource for couples who want their relationships to last for decades to come.
Charles laughed as he said, “You know what we did for our 52nd wedding anniversary? We wrote a new book! About marriage!”
The Savvy Marriage Experts Have Been Together 55+ Years
Many people don’t know how to cultivate a successful marriage — but, for Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, it’s simple. Happy marriages are built on everyday kindnesses.
Whether they’re researching love, writing about love, or being interviewed about love, Charles and Elizabeth deliver essential advice that can apply to people of all ages, faiths, orientations, creeds, and backgrounds.
“We really love what we do,” Charles told us. “There’s so much to learn, so much to share, and we just want to make it accessible to people out there.”
These academics have earned accolades and gotten media attention for their work, but their greatest accomplishment is closer to home. Charles and Elizabeth started as college sweethearts, and now they have been married for more than 55 years.
“These things happen to people. You meet and feel that attraction,” Charles said, “but you have to act on it. Fortunately, we both acted right.”