Secrets to a Successful Long-Term Relationship
Kate Thompson, writer, wedding expert and agony aunt over at Confetti, tells us the secrets behind a successful long-term relationship and gives advice on how to overcome the traditional expectations of romance
Disney has a lot to answer for! Our expectations of ‘boy meets girl’ begin with a prince and princess and highly idealised notions of romance. The messages from our childhood are ones of magical, undying love. These fairy tales don’t take into account all the trials and tribulations of real life as we grow older. A successful long-term relationship is loving and nurturing and fun. Here are some secrets to how to keep it that way!
Love and falling in love
It’s all too easy to fall in love and get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement of planning a life ‘together forever’. For some, all you need is love. Love is one essential ingredient to any successful long-term relationship and yet there is a difference between the ‘falling in love’ type of infatuation that can blind us to some extent, and real, caring love.
In Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières describes the difference between ‘falling in love’ and simply loving, a lesson, for many, which is pivotal to the success of any long-term relationship.
‘Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day… That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away.’
Every relationship has a different dynamic but if you love your partner, then you care for them and want only what is best for them. Love is patient, forgiving and kind, and when we love we show compassion and that we truly care. Falling in love is indeed wild and exciting while loving and being truly loved is much, much more. Keeping that feeling of being connected, whether it’s felt on a romantic, emotional, intellectual or spiritual level, is an essential ingredient for many people in a long-term relationship, and love is at its core.
‘It takes two to tango’ as they say, meaning if only one partner wants it to work, that’s just not enough. Long term relationships need give and take, and while partnerships thrive on togetherness, you don’t have to live in each other’s pockets. Trust in a relationship means there can also be freedom to pursue separate interests too.
Sex and intimacy
Regular intimacy, both physically in terms of embracing each day and making love on a fairly regular basis, as well as emotional intimacy – opening up and sharing your innermost feelings, thoughts and fears will bring you closer as a couple. The fire and passion of initial lusty feelings can burn away gently for years to come as long as the fire is stoked every once in a while.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any long-term relationship is friendship. If you like each other’s company, and value each other as friends, then whatever else may happen, you’ll always have that. Friendship is about close companionship and sharing hobbies, interests and values as well as goals for the future. So that if sex drives wane or illness strikes, you remain together.
What it all boils down to is that we show respect for our partners just as we do our close friends, we don’t judge them harshly, we trust them and we don’t betray their trust in us. We treat others as we would like to be treated. And a shared sense of humour helps in all things. There’s an old saying, ‘the couple who laugh together, stay together’.
Share the secrets
There are many secrets to having a successful, loving and nurturing relationship that improves over time and fulfils you and your partner, your children and your friends. Let’s not keep them secret but share them and make the most of life and love.
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