How to build a relationship that lasts – 14 tips from real couples
Once the honeymoon period is over, it can be hard to maintain long-term love. 14 real couples shared their top tips for building a relationship that lasts with Jo Middleton
It’s the dream scenario, isn’t it? To find that one person who makes you feel complete and ticks all the boxes. It’s certainly the kind of thing that films are made of. However, all too often, the emphasis is placed on that one single event: falling in love. Far less thought is given to exactly what you’re meant to do afterwards; how to navigate the happily ever after.
Once you have found your Mr. or Mrs. Right, what’s the secret to having a long and happy relationship that lasts? To find out the secret to long-lasting love, I turned to some real couples to find out exactly what helped them go the distance.
As you might imagine, communication, compromise and compatibility (of course) are all important. But some of the answers may surprise you – and if you have your own tips to add, please let us know in the comments.
1. Spend time pursuing separate interests
‘We’ve been together 16 years,’ says Tami. ‘I think it’s important to keep your interests as well as enjoying things together as a couple. Both my husband and I have our own hobbies and clubs that we go to on our own. I love him to bits but too much time together and we drive each other nuts!’
2. Pay attention
‘Pay attention to your wife, in little and big ways’ says Michael.
3. Take time out
‘Don’t live in each other’s pockets,’ says Emma. ‘Give each other space to do your own thing, but get involved in their thing and respect that they like it. Be kind to each other, treat each other well and be honest!’
4. Communication is key
‘Communicate,’ says Jane. ‘Don’t assume you know what the other person thinks and wants, and vice versa.’
5. Don’t take them for granted
‘We’ve been together for 26 years,’ says Nadine. ‘My tip is never, ever, take them for granted. Say thank you. Be kind. Appreciate the little things. It keeps things new and happy!’
6. Keep your sense of humour
‘Be on the road away from home as often and as long as possible,’ suggests Daniel. (We’re pretty sure he’s joking…)
7. Respect your partner
’17 years here,’ says Abby. ‘For us, it’s been respect and understanding, I think, that has helped us through tougher times.’
8. Being bored is okay
‘Don’t be worried about feeling bored sometimes,’ Alice reassures. ‘Life is long; it’s not always going to be a montage from the middle of a rom-com. You just have to find someone you’re happy being bored with.’
9. Say yes
‘Say yes a lot,’ recommends Alex.
10. Maintain the passion
’12 years here,’ says Amy. ‘I think it really helps that I still think my husband is hot! It can be easy to let that side of a relationship slide when you’ve been together so long and have kids, but I think it’s important to keep the romance alive. I don’t really know how to put it other than to say have loads of sex – you’ll be much happier if you do!’
11. Have shared values
‘Choose someone with the same values as you even if you’re really different,’ recommends Emma. ‘Have a laugh, and accept that the relationship will change over time.’
12. Don’t accuse each other
‘One thing I’ve learnt is to steer clear of accusatory language when things get heated,’ says Chloe. ‘So, instead of ‘You always do X’ and ‘You made me feel like X’ try rephrasing to ‘I felt like X when X happened.’ Blame is a sure-fire way to make emotions escalate.’
13. Keep an eye on your hygiene habits
‘Separate bathrooms,’ says Aoife. ’19 years in and it’s why we’re still together!’
14. Always put them first
‘We’ve been married for 27 years this November,’ says Emma. ‘Our tip to staying happy together is to always have the other in mind in everything we do. If we think for one split second that the other wouldn’t like it, then we simply don’t do it without talking it through first. We tell each other every day that we love each other and always try to make the other feel adored, special and truly loved (sounds cheesy, but it works for us.) Our main priority (after the kids) is each other’s happiness. We discuss everything, never keep secrets and never, ever criticise our relationship to friends.