Most of us can think of couples who have been married for 30, 40, 50 years or more and who seem to be as happy in each others company as they were when they first met. As a relationship counsellor sadly I don't see enough couples like this on a day-to-day basis. So what magic ingredient have these happy couples found?
Firstly it seems that they have a real liking of each other from the start. That is, they were not just physically attracted or infatuated but had a real connection. As the relationship progressed they have worked on and developed this connection. There seems to be at least five key aspects to this:
1. They are aware of each others changing needs and aspirations. We all change over time and the most successful couples seem to be aware of how their partner has changed and do not just assume them to be the same as they were when they first met. They take time to understand their partner in the present time and their hopes and plans for the future.
2. They continually find new shared interests. Couples will stay closer if they have shared interests. This is all the stronger if they can find new shared interests over the years. Getting stuck together in the same deep rut is not a recipe for a happy relationship. Whether it is a new hobby or a new shared dream of a business venture, this will help to keep a couple's relationship fresh, young and healthy.
3. They know how to argue. Even the happiest couples will argue. But in a strong relationship, success is not defined by winning an argument or getting one's own way, but from knowing how to discuss differences fully and honestly. If you constantly put your partner down when you disagree and at the end of an argument, you do not feel stronger and more connected than you did before you started, then the relationship is being eroded bit by bit. To have a successful relationship couples will know how to argue, they may disagree, but they end up understanding each other better and respecting their differences.
4. They accept the realities of getting older. We all grow older and a couple in a strong relationship will ensure that they are there for each other. They will take care of one another as they deal with the physical challenges of aging and feelings of mortality. They share their thoughts on what lies ahead and take comfort from knowing that their partner will be there to support them no matter what happens.
5. They remain physically connected. You are never too old to hold hands, kiss or cuddle or have sex and couples who do this throughout their relationship are more likely to stay connected. Having a physical and sensual relationship together throughout life does seem to be a key ingredient to a successful long-term relationship.
These ingredients are not mystical but are something that we could all achieve with a bit of effort and commitment. The reward of having a supportive and loving partnership throughout your life has to make this effort worthwhile. No matter how long you have been together it is not too late to add these ingredients back into your relationship if they are missing.
About the Author
Clare Davies is a writer and relationship counsellor for more information and resources see http://love-sex-relationships.com