I’m constantly asked by my clients and readers, “How do you make a partnership really last?” I’ve witnessed some fairly long romances in my time, and I even wrote a book, Honeymoon Forever: Secrets to Life Long Intimacy, where I discuss the subject of life-long partnerships, including the notion of eternal love.
I’ve also written lots of articles about making love last, where I’ve suggested some common elements to successful long-term love, including some basic qualities to look for in a potential partner.
But when I think about all the complications and pressures in our society today, I’m hard-pressed to think of or recall some really, really long-lasting, successful relationships – until now.
My folks, very happily married for 71 years – a perfect example of long-term relationship success!
Recently, I had a chance to speak with this amazing couple (okay, I’m biased!) and observe how they’ve managed to stay together for so long.
Here are some of my own observations and their basic beliefs about lasting love:
What I observed (the highlights)
Mutual affection. The first thing I noticed, as I sat down with them, was the mutual affection they showed to one other. They held hands and sat so very close during our entire conversation. They repeatedly gazed at each other, like high school sweethearts.
Like the day they met. Both were able to recall and reminisce fondly about times gone by, like how they met, the whole time lovingly pointing out all the particulars.
Shared time. I marveled how these two love birds shared a distinct bond of time, an impressive back log of history together, which they were so eager and happy to share with me.
Attunement. It was remarkable to see how attuned they were with each other – like a finely tuned Stradivarius violin or an aged yet sweet wine. Their interactions were so kind, respectful, and always with the highest level of mutual admiration.
How often do you see that in today’s couples?
Not too often.
My observations may interest you, but what the folks had to say about life and love, really got my attention…
What They Observed (the highlights)
Ups, downs, and love changes. Both agreed that they’ve had to deal with many “ups” and “downs” during their 71 years together. To them, occasional conflicts and trying times were a natural part of all partnerships.
And I thought it was only me!
It was also interesting to hear my mother saying that “the quality of their love had changed over the decades, but that their love for one other, still remained”—a life-long constant.
My Father: “We’re tolerant of each other. Ya gotta let bygones be bygones.”
My Mother: “We don’t get angry with each other very easily, and if we do, we never hold onto it for long. I can always express myself directly without any fear of criticism.”
Sharing common interests—sometimes…
Father: “We love doing things together, but we also have our own interests, too. I love to go to the Y, and your mother likes to watch Jeopardy.”
Mother: “Right. We don’t always do things together. Otherwise, we’d drive each other crazy.”
My father: “Ain’t that the truth!”
(They both laugh.)
Father: “We’re best of friends. Over time, you get to know each other better and better. We deal with the problems, we struggle together.”
Mother: “We face things together. It’s the only way.”
Mother: “And you know what I think’s really keeps us together? Humor! You have to have it, always.”
Father: “That’s right. A good sense of humor keeps our marriage alive.”
Mother: “That’s right. Humor’s gotten us though a lot.”
(They nod in agreement.)
Nothing’s perfect, acceptance, and cherishing the moment…
Father: “Look, nothing’s perfect. You have to accept what is.”
Mother: “… and cherish every moment together.”
Father: “I love this girl…”
And a bit of luck?
Mother: “We’re lucky we have each other. Really, we were lucky.”
Father: “Maybe a little luck had something to do with our success over the years. Only God knows.”
Mother: “Only God knows…”
(They tenderly kiss.)
So, there you have it: my revealing chat with the folks–two wonderful people who’ve truly made the effort to hang in there and make it work.
Their almost spiritually-driven love for each other unquestionably shines through, with sweet terms of endearment sprinkled throughout our candid conversation –truly an authentic love for the ages…
But, their longevity makes complete sense, once you observe their mutual kindness, unquestionable dedication, learned trust, and total respect for one another.
I believe that these positive relationship essentials cut across all times, places, and personalities.
I could write a book about all that I’ve learned from this dear couple, my beautiful parents.
Maybe I will.
*Do you have stories of long-term love? Please recount them in the comments section below!
And learn more about relationship longevity in my latest book, Honeymoon Forever: Secrets to Life Long Intimacy!