This month Jodi Bryant asks several couples how they met, how long they have been together, a brief glimpse into their journey together and their secrets to a long relationship:

Mike and Leanne Cummins, married 39 years

Leanne: "I can remember crying helplessly whilst signing the register in the church my parents had been married in and thinking: 'Oh my god, what am I doing?'

"It was 1979, and I was 20 years old. Mike was 27, and we met at work. After I left that job I needed a partner for a ball, so called him to see if he would go with me. We were engaged a few months later.


"Here we are nearly 39 years later, four lovely children, and two grandchildren whom we adore, and still together, still happy. It took me at least 15 years to realise I couldn't change him! Once you accept your partner for who they are, warts and all, it becomes a lot easier.

"For me, the secret to a successful relationship is respect, trust and friendship. At the end of the day, you have to like the person you are with, and have fun with them. I love, love, love weddings, I am a terrible romantic, so I became a Marriage and Civil Union Celebrant. The common thread I hear when I ask couples what will make their relationship successful is communication (often the hardest thing to do) and kindness.

Brent and Melissa Noone, together 18 years, married 13

Mel: "We met through a mutual friend on a 'one-night' fling… which has turned out to be a few more nights… and three children later.

"We are best mates, four weeks apart in age, both stubborn, and totally opposite in nature. This combo works for us. We have had our share of highs and lows, with many more highs. There's been so many journeys over the years and more to come.

"We don't take ourselves too seriously - there is a lot of humour between us and we like to banter and it's ok to give in sometimes. We believe in one-another and acknowledge each other's skillsets, spending time together/identity together and spending time apart/own identity for us is important. Also, it sounds cliche, but going to bed with things resolved helps.

"By the way, we don't do Valentine's - never have and we're unlikely to start. It's celebrated every day!"

Mike and Jordan Ford,
together 17 years, married 16

Jordan: "We met when I was 17 and Mike was 24 at Elim Church in Whangarei. He was sitting in front of me and I whispered to my friend I'd like to marry someone like him.

"After six months of dating, Mike ordered me a Caltex fuel card to help me out as I was flatting and not earning a lot of money. The card arrived in the mail along with a congratulations voucher! I had won a scenic helicopter ride! I was so excited. It said I could take one person with me. I rang Mike excitedly saying I had won a ride on a helicopter and would he like to come. He agreed.

"As we were flying, I said: 'This is amazing - it's like a $100 prize'. He said: 'More like $500'. 'Do you think?' I asked.

"Still completely oblivious we arrived at Proctors beach on a beautiful sunny day with a picnic set up! I was like, this is an awesome prize I've won. Then when he got down on his knee it all made sense that he had planned it all!

"Seventeen years later we have four kids, a cat, three chickens and 500 cows. We purchased our first dairy farm in Maungaturoto 18 months ago.

"He's my best friend, we love hanging out and working together. A big must for us is time away without the kids; we usually have at least four weekends a year (thanks grandparents) where we go away and stay at a bach or hotel so we can hangout stress-free of kids and just enjoy each other's company. We also enjoy hanging out in the evenings once kids are in bed, either watching a movie or having a spa or relaxing outside next to the outdoor fire.

"Our fights don't last long these days - who can be bothered ignoring each other for days? One of us usually says sorry quickly (usually Mike) but they used to last a lot longer.

"We also love our family time and dinner around the table at night is a must. No TV and Wi-Fi is turned off, we talk about our day and connect, laugh and hear all the stories of everyone's day."

Alan and Jenny Vaile, together 45 years, married 41

Jenny: "We met in 1972, aged 14 and 16, at a Horahora Hall dance. I was immediately attracted to Alan's best friend Ian – Ian was our best man four years later.

"We live beside the Waipu River and have three children – two daughters and a son – and four grandchildren.

"My advice on sustaining a long relationship is to not take things too seriously. We have a lot of fun together and are always laughing and giving each other a hard time. We also have some doozie arguments. Don't sweat the small stuff. Life is for enjoying and so is marriage."