Most people know Ina Garten as the “Barefoot Contessa,” the host of her namesake show on the Food Network, and author of countless cookbooks.
While many in the entertainment industry hop from one relationship to the next, Ina has been with the same supportive spouse for nearly five decades. Ina first met her husband Jeffrey when she was just 15 years old and visiting her brother at Dartmouth College. She says it was love at first sight for both of them, and five years later, when she was 20, they wed.
Now, they’ve been together for almost 50 years, and Ina says her secret to a happy, long-lasting union can be summed up in just nine simple tips.
1. Sometimes you “just know” when you’ve found the man of your dreams.
When asked who is the greatest love of her life, she answers, “That’s easy—Jeffrey.”
Her greatest regret? “Not marrying Jeffrey sooner.”
2. Focus on giving your attention to others, not demanding it for yourself.
“Never let ’em see you sweat. Guests feel guilty if they think you’ve worked too hard to make dinner for them — which of course you have!” The same can be said about a relationship, “Rather than demanding attention, by giving attention, you get attention back. It’s actually simpler than you think.”
3. Show people you love them by making them something good to eat.
“One of the great gifts that you can give people is to cook for them.” Ina says it doesn’t matter the occasion, rather “it’s the connections that we have with people we love that nourish our souls. Entertaining isn’t just about making dinner parties. It’s about celebrating those connections and I think that’s what makes life worth living.”
4. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most.
“Jeffrey doesn’t actually cook for me, but he makes coffee every morning, he gets me the newspaper, and I’m so grateful.”
5. It’s important to connect when you’re away from each other.
Though Ina and Jeffrey don’t always live in the same place because of their jobs, they always take time to come together. “Fun is the most important,” she says. “Even though he’s away, he’s like this anchor in the middle of my life.”
6. Making a wholesome meal like Engagement Chicken, or a special, decadent dessert, is the way to your partner’s heart.
“Creme Brulee is the ultimate ‘guy’ dessert. Make it and he’ll follow you anywhere.”
7. Spend as much time with your loved ones as possible.
“I get up every day, do the best that I can do, and go home and have a good time.”
8. Trust that your partner will be there for you.
“I’m a sucker for a man with flowers. Especially this man.”
9. Comfort food is important.
“My favorite fall or winter lunch is big steaming bowls of soup. I usually invite people […] and have two hearty soups like shrimp corn chowder and lentil sausage soup, which can be made a day or two ahead.” Plus, like Ina says if things don’t work out with a partner, “comfort food [will] make you feel all better.”
We may not all be able to cook as well as Ina, but if we follow her advice, maybe we can all treat our loved ones with the same kindness and consideration that she shows for Jeffrey!
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