‘M*A*S*H’ Icon Alan Alda Revealed Why a ‘Short Memory’ is the Key to a Long Marriage

In November 2019, MAS*H star Alan Alda revealed marriage secrets and why his wife says a “short memory” is the key to a successful relationship.

Alda, 85, and his wife, Arlene, have been married for 64 years now. Arlene – a musician, photographer and children’s author – and Alda share three daughters together. In addition, the couple has eight grandchildren in their over six decades together.

While no marriage is easy, the MAS*H actor and his wife have plenty of experience from their numerous years as a couple. The pair have been together since his college days at Fordham University. The couple have known each other since 1956 and wed a year after Alda graduated.

According to Arlene, the secret to a long and successful marriage is letting things go quickly. She suggests having a short memory. Alda also shared his own bit of advice, which boils down to how you argue since it’s inevitable. He says if you simply remember that you’re talking to your loved one that it can help change the tone of the argument.

“The secret to a long marriage is a short memory,” Alda said to The Guardian about Arlene’s key to marriage. “I have a more pedestrian way of looking at it, which is when you’re in the middle of yelling at each other, which you will at some point, remember that you’re talking to the person you love more than anybody in the world and it might change the tone of the conversation.”

How ‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Met His Wife Arlene

The story of Arlene and Alan Alda’s decades-long marriage began in New York City while each was in college. Alda was attending Fordham University in the Bronx, and Arlene was at Hunter College.

While in college, Alda went to a party one night where he first met his future wife, Arlene Weiss. The budding musician even broke out her clarinet at the party and played for the crowd. To say she had talent would be an understatement since Arlene went on to play professionally after finishing her degree.

Following her performance of some of Mozart’s works, the future MAS*H star made his move. Alda played “Hawkeye” Pierce on the classic show, and was one of the most charismatic characters on television. Yet amusingly all he came up with when he first approached Arlene after her performance was, “You were good,” according to the Washington Post.

The pair didn’t hit it off right away obviously. But they returned to the same mutual friends’ apartment a few weeks later. This time their interaction was even more hilarious, but it helped solidify their lifelong bond. While at the dinner party, the host’s rum cake fell off the fridge and was seemingly ruined.

However, the popular M*A*S*H actor and Arlene were the only two guests that refused to let the dessert go to waste. The future couple grabbed some spoons and salvaged what they could of the cake while the rest of the guests likely looked at the pair like they were crazy. Hilariously enough, that moment is when the couple first started to make their lifelong connection.

“So that was it,” Alda said. “From that time on we were almost inseparable.”

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