Being in my 48th year, divorced following a 19yr marriage, my parents divorced however in long term relationships following (and still friends), lucky to have a handful of close girlfriends and a multitude of acquaintances, being of a “curious by nature” mind and general observer of human behaviour, I’ve often contemplated the question “what allows relationships the sustainability to survive the tests of time”. This question has weighed heavily on me for years now. What is the “secret”?
I believe I have managed to narrow it down to some key elements.
I personally know a few couples that have survived decades and decades of being with the same partner. Somehow seeming to consistently appear happy and truly enjoy each other. What is this rare phenomenon? What do they have that allows for this achievement that many have strived for, but few have achieved?
Here’s what these couples all have in common….
Friendship – they truly enjoy each other. The good the bad and the ugly in “real” life, they survive united and together, like an unwavering bond. Through laughter and tears, trials and tribulations, family, friends, work, sickness and health issues, they remain each others biggest fan and greatest supporter. They are honest sounding boards and don’t fear the outcome of speaking their own individual minds, calling their partner out when they’re wrong but always, proving that they advise selflessly, in the best interest of the partner. Laughter is a tremendous, healthy additive into any relationship – these couples rarely ever lack the ability to make each other laugh out loud, full out pee-pee in the pants kind of laughter.
Respect – I’ve yet to witness any of these couples disrespect each other. Whether its keeping secrets shared, never bad mouthing, public outings always prove a mutual level of respect be it between them or separate, no-one would dare attempt to bad mouth their partner as the partners honour would most definitely be fiercely guarded.
Intimacy – this is a big one. H U G E ! HOW do they manage to still want to rip each others clothes off? This apparently isn’t difficult to achieve when all the other components are being maintained. Friendship, laughter, respect, complete trust – affection seems to result without effort or the dreaded to any “due diligence”. Where each others needs are being met, these relationships never seem to collect dust where the intimacy department is concerned. They each separately feel sexy because their partner adores and cherishes them. Whether it’s a foot rub watching tv, a glass of water with a couple of Advil for a head ache, picking up house work slack if the other may have too much on their plate… all of these elements allow gratitude, comfort, a feeling of love for their partner knowing that they are appreciated. A soft goodnight or kiss before leaving the house – or.. a push up against the counter and rip each others clothes off, kitchen sex (hot damn)… intimacy between them never becomes old or stale.
Now, here the big one.. from what I’ve experienced personally and observed with these successful relationships…. NEVER EVER having to change who you are, your character, your likes, dislikes, just being YOU – is perfect. I can say with strong authority, having to adjust who you are to appease someone else, being made to feel you aren’t enough, you need to be different, more of what someone else is, change your hair, your clothes, your tastes/interests – all the qualities that make you YOU’NIQUE…. stuffing yourself into a cage to be anything but authentic to you – at some point.. you will outgrow the cage and want to fly, no.. SOAR. Like a buried lie, truth will at some point surface – as will one’s true self. The relationships that “work”, these couples have never ever had to pack away or change who they are as individuals. They are loved for WHO THEY ARE, cherished for being unlike anyone else and encouraged to grow into their own person, while growing together as a unified couple.
No relationship comes without challenges, arguments, extreme highs and on some days, feels like relationship rock bottom has a basement, we’re all human for goodness sake… however… the above mentioned, allows the security of knowing once the dust settles, at the end of the day, your person loves you, has your back and you theirs – there’s no greener grass, they maintain their own “relationship lawn”, take pride in it and its admired by all who have the pleasure of observing it.