Tips From The REAL Experts

She caught the bouquet, he caught the garter. They left the wedding together and remain that way 25 years later. Two drivers bumped fenders. They discover they share the same insurance agency. Forty years later, they share the same name.

As a leading hopitality company, Hilton Hotels has seen its share of newlyweds and honeymooners. To find out what keeps romance on track, Hilton conducted a random survey of some of its long-time married guests.

The Great Escape

Barbara and Willy Schultz of Southern California celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last year. The secret to their lasting romance? Adventure.

"We always ask each other `What next?'" said Mrs. Schultz. "We make sure we have some `just us' time planned each week in the form of some type of fun outing."

According to Ken Fried, director for the Los Angeles Center For Relationship, couples should take time away from their demanding schedules and make time for each other.

"Getting away for a weekend or even a night together gives couples a chance to rediscover the qualities that attracted them to each other in the first place," said Fried.

Joanie Flynn, director of leisure and resort marketing for Hilton Hotels Corporation, said a 1994 Hilton survey supports Fried's thoughts on the value of romantic rendezvous.

"More than half of the couples we surveyed said they fall in love again when on a trip," said Flynn. "In fact, that's one of the reasons Hilton has a special Romance Package. It includes added touches like complimentary champagne, breakfast in bed and late check-out to appeal to couples looking for something special."

Just Because

Hilton's long-time married couples agree that one under-used romance ingredient is as simple as the word itself: surprise.

"We give each other `Happy Happies,' " said Annette Johnson, from Los Angeles, married to Willie for 35 years. "A `Happy Happy' is any thoughtful little gift. Sometimes, Willie will come home with a rose or a box of my favorite flavored popcorn, or I'll stick a love note in his briefcase before he goes to work. It's our special way of saying `I love you.' "

Mrs. Shultz's husband found a unique way to surprise his wife.

"Before I retired, Willy would write `I love you' on the skin of bananas and put them in my lunch. It was always a wonderful surprise at work," said Shultz.

Hello? Hello?

One common buzz word among long-time married couples is "communication." Norb and Peggy De-chant of Houston, Texas, have been married since 1960. They readily admit that living side-by-side for 35 years isn't always easy.

"Newlyweds should understand that it's okay to disagree or even argue," said Mrs. Dechant. "In a sense, I think a lot of problems occur when people stop arguing, because it's often a signal they've stopped communicating."

To keep the communication lines open, Mr. Dechant said he and his wife travel.

"We enjoy our special trips. It forces us to communicate because it's just the two of us," he said.

Flynn recommends a Hilton Romance Package to couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway, arranged through a professional travel agent or by calling 1-800-HILTONS. (NAPSI)

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