Ted Kaplan and Henry Tobin, of Northport, have been together for almost 40 years. They credit the success of their relationship to valuing the importance of one another.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

What is the secret to lasting love?

The exact formula is different for every couple, but it usually contains a few key ingredients: Respect, communication and common interests.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we talked to four longtime couples — including one pair who have been together more than 60 years — about how they met and fell in love, and how they have kept their relationships fresh and fulfilling over the decades.

’TELL IT LIKE IT IS’

A blind date brought Laurie and Howard Kaminsky together. But communication has kept them together.

On that first date on Oct. 23, 1976, the pair went to a movie (“Marathon Man” with Dustin Hoffman) followed by dinner at a diner (the Blue Bay in Auburndale, Queens).

“I said, ‘Good night. I’ll give you a call.’ And here we are,” said Howard Kaminsky, 72, a retired electrician.

Laurie Kaminsky said she felt a spark right away.

“I knew he was a keeper,” said the retired teacher, who is 67. “I just had that intuition. He had a job, he was five years older than me, we had a lot of things in common.”

Recently, the Kaminskys downsized and moved from East Meadow to a 55+ community in Center Moriches to stay close to their son, daughter and grandchildren, and, she said, they “feel like newlyweds.”

Through the years, Laurie Kaminsky said, their bond has only grown stronger, especially now that they’re both retired.

They take walks, go bowling and shop for food and furniture together. “We share a lot of things,” she said. “We both have a say in something: 50/50.”

Out of their childhood friends, the Kaminskys said they are the only couple whose marriage has lasted. Laurie Kaminsky credits their success to the emphasis they place on “being honest with one another, talking, communication.”

The key to a successful relationship, her husband advises, is not to keep secrets from one another.

“We tell it like it is. If you can’t tell the truth, then you’re a phony,” he said.

Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses doesn’t hurt, either.

For example, Laurie Kaminsky said, “He does the cooking, I don’t cook.”

Naturally, in 45 years of marriage, they’ve had their share of arguments.

“But we always make up. We never go to bed angry,” she said.

For anyone starting or struggling with a relationship, Howard Kaminsky offers this advice: “Just be honest and have faith in each other. If things go bad, if you love somebody, you got to stick by them.”

Laurie and Howard Kaminsky share a kiss outside their home...

Laurie and Howard Kaminsky share a kiss outside their home in Center Moriches. They say honesty is the key to their lasting success as a couple. Credit: Barry Sloan

A MATCH MADE BY THE STARS

The first time Chandra and Thulasi Gupta met, after their horoscopes had been matched by their families, Thulasi was seated between her parents in Coimbatore in southern India. At the time, Thulasi was 17, Chandra 24.

During that first meeting 62 years ago, the couple didn’t actually talk much, Chandra Gupta recalled.

“We exchanged pleasant and lovely views,” he said. “Our only common interest was raising the family.”

In an arranged match, he said one must quickly assess their prospective mate’s character, views and family. “It’s a question of seeing each other for only a few minutes. Once I like her, I say ‘yes,’ she says ‘yes’ and the marriage is arranged.”

The couple married a few months later in front of about 4,000 guests. Shortly after, in 1962, they came to the United States, moving around the country for Chandra Gupta’s work as an internal medicine physician. They returned to India in 1971 for about nine months before resettling in New York in 1972 and moving into their current home in Roslyn in 1984.

The initial move to the United States proved challenging for Thulasi Gupta, who couldn’t speak English and was left alone while her husband completed his medical residency.

“She was upset with me for putting her in a desperate situation, throwing her into depression,” said Chandra Gupta, 86. “As the days went by, she got adjusted to the new environment and felt better.”

Tensions arose again when their first son was born and they discovered they had markedly different approaches toward child-rearing: Chandra Gupta’s more liberal, his wife’s more disciplined.

“Her way of raising the child stood ground but created a bitter relationship for a few months,” he said.

“Slowly we adjusted,” said Thulasi Gupta, 78, a retired secretary.

The couple, who have three children, enjoy playing bridge, jogging, swimming, entertaining and traveling around the world.

At times, Chandra Gupta said, his wife won’t yield and won’t talk to him for a few days until she gets her way. But most of the time when they have a conflict, they said they discuss it, argue and eventually come to an agreement.

“We’re understanding each other,” Thulasi Gupta said.

And, her husband said, “No matter what happens, we never let our married life be ruined. Love, affection, cooperation, patience and respect for each other are essential ingredients for family life and happiness — and we followed that.”

Chandra Gupta and his wife, Thulasi, have had their share...

Chandra Gupta and his wife, Thulasi, have had their share of ups and downs in 62 years of marriage. But, said Chandra, “No matter what happens, we never let our married life be ruined." Credit: Linda Rosier

TRY ‘A LITTLE BIT OF HUMBLENESS'

In July 1984, Henry Tobin met Ted Kaplan at a mutual friend’s party in Oyster Bay.

The two started talking and the time flew by, Tobin recalled. Before they knew it, hours had passed.

“There were a lot of mutual interests,” said Kaplan, noting that they discussed their backgrounds, real estate, investing and politics.

That night, Kaplan said he invited Tobin to come to his Northport home for dinner a few days later. By October, they’d gone to Paris together and Tobin had moved into Kaplan’s home. Three months later, he gave up his apartment in Wantagh altogether.

The couple didn’t get married, however, until Sept. 9, 2011 — just months after same-sex marriage became legal in New York State. They wed in a dockside ceremony at their home, officiated by George Doll, then the mayor of Northport.

Throughout their nearly 40-year relationship, the couple said they have stayed determined, committed and very much in love.

“It was very important to the both of us to make the relationship work,” said Tobin, 69, a former Northport deputy mayor, who is now on the board of the Institute for Community Living and works with Friends of the Coltrane Home.

“Any relationship takes a huge amount of effort and work,” said Kaplan, 82, an attorney. “We had ups and downs, of course, and it just takes a lot of work and a commitment.”

When they got on each other’s nerves, Tobin said he would remind himself that there were things he did that annoyed his husband and to have “a little bit of humbleness that we’re both human, and we both have to accommodate each other and to remember, most importantly, that we loved each other.”

The pair said they would have liked to have had children, but they fell in love at a time when that was a rarity for same-sex couples. Today, they said they have about a dozen same-sex couple friends who have children.

“It’s incredible social progress that our country has made again in civil rights and personal rights and living up to the promise of this country for personal liberty and respecting the individual,” Tobin said.

Ted Kaplan, left, and his husband, Henry Tobin, at their...

Ted Kaplan, left, and his husband, Henry Tobin, at their Northport home. When one gets on the other's nerves, they try to remember, "We’re both human, and we both have to accommodate each other." Credit: Rick Kopstein

DRAWING CLOSER AFTER HEALTH CRISIS

Marriage is a lot of work, said Paula Magnus, 64, who has been married to Carl Magnus since July 1994.

Paula Magnus was living and working in the San Francisco Bay area in November 1989 when she met her future husband on a cruise in Jamaica.

“After the cruise, she stalked me,” quipped Carl Magnus, 65, a retired NYPD officer who now works in real estate.

After a two-year long-distance courtship, Magnus proposed and the couple settled in Freeport, where he lived.

When he retired from the police force 21 years ago, Magnus took on the lead role in the day-to-day parenting of their young daughter, even becoming the PTA president, while his wife worked for Northside Center for Child Development, where she currently serves as its chief revenue officer and deputy director.

Working all day, which entailed commuting to and from Harlem, Paula Magnus said she was often tired and probably less attentive than she should have been.

“Men need more attention than women, I think, realize,” she said. “I think half of our struggle, when it happened, was my being distracted and not giving the attention he needed. ... Carl is a very sensitive, attentive man. You got to realize who they are, what they need and provide them. Because if not, they’re going to get that somewhere else.”

Noting that their daughter, Carla, was 4 years old when he retired, Magnus said he understands the plight of stay-at-home moms.

“I couldn’t wait till Paula came home to give me a break,” he said.

For years, Magnus said he felt frustrated and angry, often turning inward. The couple tried counseling in 2018, but their relationship didn’t improve until two years later, when he came down with COVID.

Suffering from severe COVID symptoms, Magnus said he spent 15 days in the hospital in March 2020. He got so sick that his family thought he might not survive.

As awful as that experience was, the couple said it helped them see the other in a new light.

Magnus was grateful to his wife, who, he said, kept the entire family, including his sisters, together through the ordeal.

“It wasn’t until I got home and I heard from my sisters what they were all going through. … I think that affected me and helped me lose the anger,” he said.

For her part, Paula Magnus said she was touched by her husband’s devotion to the family, even when he was sick.

Before and after he was hospitalized, Magnus quarantined in the basement and would often FaceTime his family to keep them apprised of his condition.

“I thought that was so loving and considerate of him to try to do that in that time when he was physically not really able to,” Paula Magnus said.

The experience, ultimately, brought them closer, she said: “You start appreciating people for their qualities when you go through those difficult, scary times, too.”

Paula and Carl Magnus discovered newfound appreciation for one another...

Paula and Carl Magnus discovered newfound appreciation for one another when Carl became seriously ill with COVID. Credit: Danielle Silverman

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