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Ina Garten dishes out love advice after 50 years of marriage

"He's like this anchor in the middle of my life. Instead of making me feel kind of lost at sea, it's this big anchor in the middle of my life and it gives me enormous freedom, which is wonderful."
/ Source: TODAY

Everyone has a classic love story that shapes their perception of romance: You know, like Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose, Oprah and Stedman, Selena and Justin, Elio and Oliver, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Megan and Harry. But, for me, it’s always been Ina and Jeffrey.

She met him when she was 15, while visiting her brother at Dartmouth, and married him at 20. That's over 50 years together, and they're still this in love:

Jeffrey Garten kissing Ina Garten
Jeffrey Garten kissing Ina GartenSonia Moskowitz / Getty Images

If you've ever watched Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, you'll know what I'm talking about. When they're away from each other for even just a little while, they greet each other like they haven't seen each other for years. Since they don't always live in the same place during the week — Jeffrey works as Dean Emeritus at the Yale School of Management and Ina works on her books in East Hampton — they always call each other to check in. They even leave each other little love notes.

And as we learned by asking her for her love advice, when they are together, he wakes her up with coffee and the newspaper. She cooks for him just to bring a smile to his face.

If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are Ina Garten's tips for a happy, enduring relationship:

1. You'll just know when you find "the one."

"I met Jeffrey when I was 15, and I have to say, I just knew he was the one," she told TODAY Food. "He's kind, he's smart, he's funny, and he takes very good care of me. It's wonderful."

2. Don't demand attention. Give it.

"If you take care of somebody and don't worry about what they're gonna take care of you, they will," she said. "Rather than demanding attention, by giving attention, you get attention back. It's actually simpler than you think."

3. Cooking is an amazing way to express love for someone.

"I think the best way you can express love by cooking for someone is figure out what they like — not what you like, what they like — and make it for them. And they'll feel really good."

4. All of your dishes should be your partner's favorite.

"Pretty hard to think of what favorite dish I make [for him]," said Ina. "I think every time I test a new recipe and I give it to him and he goes, 'This is the best thing I ever had.' So I can say all of them are!"

Fig and Goat Cheese Toasts

5. Little gestures go a long way.

"Jeffrey doesn't actually cook for me, but he makes coffee every morning, he gets me the newspaper, and I'm so grateful."

6. It's important to connect when you're away from each other.

"Actually, Jeffrey and I don't always live in the same place, because he's at Yale in New Haven and I'm in East Hampton working on my books," she told us. "And one thing we always do is we always connect with each other during the day. And the thing is, even though he's away, he's like this anchor in the middle of my life. Instead of making me feel kind of lost at sea, it's this big anchor in the middle of my life and it gives me enormous freedom, which is wonderful."

7. Believe the power of the "Engagement Chicken" (or, really, just cooking for someone you love).

"I met some young women at Glamour magazine and they told me they call the roast chicken in my first book, 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,' 'Engagement Chicken,' because they found that every woman in the office that made it for their boyfriend was engaged within 24 hours. I just love that. I mean, what an advertisement for roast chicken. It turns out it even worked for Meghan Markle. So I just think it's really about cooking for people you love. And you if you cook for them and take care of them, they're gonna love you back."

8. Surround yourself with people you love.

"A friend of mine once said to me, 'We've got it all wrong about love. That it's not about surrounding yourself with people that love you, it's about surrounding yourself with people that you feel love for.' And I think that's really important to keep in mind. If you take care of people and you love them, they'll show up."

9. You have to trust that your partner will show up for you.

"And the other thing that I think is really important is that, in a relationship, that each person knows that the other person, in an emergency, is gonna run toward them. And I think that's really important. Whether they need to or not, that you just know they will."

10. Comfort food really does help during a breakup.

"And sometimes, things don't work out in a relationship and you gotta go back to comfort food. And I'd say a nice turkey lasagna [will] make you feel all better."

Al Roker's Vegetable Lasagna

This post was originally published on Feb. 14, 2018.