Quite by chance, a few weeks ago I have had the privilege of meeting a lovely married couple, who, now in their late eighties have been married, happily I might add, for more than sixty odd years. What struck me at the time was the highly apparent affection and love they still share after all these years; the way they interacted was truly a sight to behold.
This is not the first time that I have come across relationships which have survived the distance, but what I can honestly say is that each time is like discovering fairy dust, a beacon which simply lights up our perception of life and its many dark and dismal facets. So, what are the magic ingredients which make up the perfect recipe for a long lasting and happy relationship?
What is certain is that a meaningful relationship, no matter how well the odds seem stacked in its favour, still needs a lot of hard work, patience, compromise and not a little humour. Over the years I have managed to gather a few nuggets of wisdom from couples who seem to have found the right formula for a loving relationship and a love that lasts ‘till death do us part’. This is what they said…
A little kindness goes a long way
It’s all so lavish in the first flush of romance. Each partner falling over themselves to make the bed, wash the dishes and generally try to impress the other half. Give that, like, a year. But even after the first flush has faded, happy couples still manage a few meaningful, spontaneous gestures making the mundane just a little less, well, predictable. Forget Valentine’s Day romance; some people simply cannot do that kind of cheesy, no matter how hard they try, but then again, it’s usually the small things that really, really count. Small kindnesses, small gestures which while they might seem irrelevant, speak volumes and make all the difference. Knowing that your partner is thinking of you and what you really need at that particular point in time, beats all the flowers, chocolates and syrupy cards on any given day of the week.
It’s all hunky dory at twenty, thirty or even forty, but do you have the necessary chemistry to survive the distance? Physical attraction goes deeper than just the initial magnetism; it was all fine and dandy when she was all mile high legs and perky boobs and he a dead ringer for Jon Hamm, all chiselled jaw and a six-pack you could springboard from, but can you move beyond, when the perky boobs start migrating south and the six-pack morphs into a comfier family pack and the wrinkles and receding hairline take hold? Most happy couples share this one very significant factor which they say is a crucial element to their relationship’s success; the passion and belief that their attraction for each other goes beyond than just looks, and is more than simply a physical connection, but more of an emotional, intellectual one.
A little laughter
A wise man once came up with, “After God created the world, He made man and woman. Then, to keep the whole thing from collapsing, He invented humour”. Humour has unquestionably been one of the mainstays in ensuring the continuation and survival of the human race; without it no relationship worth its salt would be able to survive. The ability to laugh at ourselves and each other without any needless cruelty, helps couples cope with the trials and tribulations of daily life. Whether through awkward family crises, heated arguments or seriously undignified moments during more intimate moments, a healthy dose of humour diffuses what could potentially be a devastating situation.
You can secretly think your partner isn’t all that great, funny, talented or good-looking and that’s fine, usually the person we love, more than compensates for their off-putting quirks with their good traits. After all, nobody’s perfect! However, the relationship is doomed when you start sharing your thoughts with friends and family… thinking of all that’s so wrong with your partner is one thing, but having it confirmed by anyone else takes on a whole new, rarely positive perspective. This goes as well for couple arguments which are part and parcel of every relationship – whatever your gripe, wait until you’re behind closed doors to let rip, if you really must, but having an audience which will inevitably take sides and shove its not so welcome opinion in the mix, will only escalate what could’ve been a frivolous incident.
Us against the world
Communication is key to all human interaction, but within the confines of a relationship it is even more so. Long-term couples hail the way they communicate as an important contributor towards a relationship’s longevity. Kindness should rule all our actions, but not only. Tempering our words even if in the middle of an argument, or when anger feels all-consuming is what let’s us move beyond negative episodes of a relationship. Belittling your significant other is simply cruel but done in public will sound the death knell for any relationship. Being on the same page, all of the time, no matter what you think of their capabilities or traits, having faith in your partner and taking the ‘us against the world’ stance is the only way forward for any relationship that’s worthwhile.