At 84, Leona Fallas has boundless positive energy, a winning smile and is about to celebrate her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband whom she met as a teen.

“We started dating when I was 18 and spent a lot of time at the Bradley Beach Resort. At the end of the summer I came home and we were calling and writing. He wanted to possibly get engaged and continue a long-distance engagement.

“My aunt said, ‘That’s ridiculous, let them get married and go back together.’ So my mother organized a wedding in only ten days’ time, and we went back to Pittsburgh as a married couple!”

The happy couple, early days

Eventually they moved back to Los Angeles and began to build a business together while simultaneously starting a family. “We stuck together and built a beautiful life.”

With 67 years of experience under her belt, Leona has loads a marriage advice, some of it unconventional. Here are three pearls of wisdom.

Go to Bed Angry

Most people advise, “Never go to sleep angry. “ Leona strongly disagrees.

“I find that it’s all right if you go to bed angry. You don’t have to make everything lovey dovey or smooth things over. If it’s important, it will be there tomorrow.”

She claims that going to bed angry is one of her secrets to maintaining a happy and long-lasting marriage.

“If it is that important, it can wait, and if not, it will disappear. Don’t jump. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. They love you, and you love them. Put on the brakes; don’t jump. The first answer isn’t always the best answer.”

Commit Even When It’s Hard

Marriage requires commitment. There are good times and bad, and one has to learn to navigate and go along for the ride.

“Many years ago when I was young, I remember wanting to leave. I don’t remember what exactly transpired, but I was upset in the relationship.”

Leona chuckled to herself as she reminisced over this moment, and then continued, “I decided I wanted to head down to Palm Springs where we had a vacation condo, to get a break and think for myself. I even started driving down the highway.

“On the road, I began to think, ‘What’s the matter with you? Get yourself back on track! Turn around…’ And so, I came home…

“My partner is a strong person who often takes the lead. This added a challenging dimension to our relationship at times, but served him well in business.”

Leona thinks that a lack of overall commitment today is weakening marriages. She finds that the younger generation is avoiding marriage altogether because of it. Leona urges young people to commit to marriage and stay together, despite inevitable challenges.

“Marriage is like an investment; it will eventually pay dividends. The investment needs to be protected. That means holding off from reacting at times, and waiting to respond. Don’t allow your anger to overtake the moment.

“You’re not always on the same page, not always feeling good together, but hang in there and give the benefit of the doubt.“

She further noted, “We all get tired and experience times when our mates won’t be doing or saying the right thing, at the right time. Relax. You have a long-term investment here.”

Count Your Blessings

Leona strongly believes in counting one’s blessings to enhance a marriage. Despite the major health issues she has had throughout her life, Leona has maintained a positive outlook. She also makes sure to recognize the positive in her spouse.

In fact, when I asked Leona what she felt her husband did to maintain a successful marriage, she said it was undoubtedly his positivity.

“My husband had a road map. There was an end goal that he wanted to reach and let nothing negative get in his way. I’m very proud of his accomplishments. He sustained a synagogue and started a school [Gindi Maimonides].”

Leona sums up three keys to her successful marriage: go to bed angry, commit despite challenges, and count your blessings. Utilizing these will help couples reap the dividends of a successful investment – a long-lasting, happy marriage.