What makes a marriage last? In a time when we’re flooded with news of war, unemployment and the general malaise of society, it’s refreshing to see the occasional uplifting headline.

Here’s one: NPR recently reported on a Connecticut couple, John and Ann Betar, who celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary on Nov. 25. The Betars hold the unofficial title of “longest-married living couple in the United States,” according to Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian marriage enrichment program.

Although still madly in love, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. In fact, there was pressure from the start. The couple eloped because Ann’s father wanted her to marry someone else. “John was not the boy next door, but the boy across the street, who I loved,” Ann, 98, said. “He was 21 and used to drive me to high school in his Ford Roadster.

”The wedding apparently caused a stir in his family, too. “Everyone was hopping mad, and my wife’s aunt consoled my father-in-law by telling him not to worry, the marriage won’t last,” John, 102, said. But the marriage did last — and then some. So, what’s their secret? It’s not chocolate, roses, jewelry or romantic dinners. It comes down to old-fashioned compromise. Ann says marriage “isn’t a lovey-dovey thing. ... You learn to accept one another’s ways of life. Agreements. Disagreements.”

Learning to accept another’s way of life, despite disagreements. What a novel idea! The Betars learned early on that you can’t “fix” someone. You have to accept your spouse — warts and all. Maybe more couples should consider what those vows mean. Isn’t that what “for better, for worse” means?

Lauren Caggiano is assistant editor of OSV Newsweekly.