You’ve got the love … now what?!
There’s a trend your favourite rom coms follow (think: An Affair to Remember, Pretty Woman, Crazy Stupid Love, et al) and that is Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy have romantic hiccup then Girl and Boy fall madly in love minutes before the credits roll.
What happens next in their relationship is never shown. Do they wind up 80 years old, holding hands in a nursing home bed? If so, how did they get there?
Psychotherapist and author of OMG We’re Getting Married, Dr Karen Phillip says, that in most cases, relationships based on true acceptance of each other are the ones to last the distance. “A long-term relationship is happy and accepting; it is understanding the person we chose to be with and being considerate towards them in every way,” she says.
Warning signs a relationship might be over quicker than the fluoro fad is having the desire to change the other person. “Understanding and accepting our partner as the person they are without any want or desire to change them is one of the biggest blocks couples can experience,” says Dr Phillips.
So, what exactly can you do future-proof your relationship?
Talk! “The biggest issue facing many couples is not having the conversations we need to have,” says Dr Phillip. “We believe we know each other so well we can actually read our partner’s mind when in fact this is not always the case.”
“Listen, hear and understand what it is they are saying in a non-judgmental way and provide them with a safe environment to be open and vulnerable,” advises Dr Phillip. “Accept what they feel and never tell them that what they feel or think is wrong.”
Carol, 61, has been happily married for 32 years, and says her relationship has survived rocky times because she has been able to laugh with her husband, Ben.
“Life is so serious and serious things happen when you’ve been married for years, but if you can both look at things and try to see the positive and even laugh, it makes things so much easier,” she says.
Carol adds that while movies often focus on big romantic gestures, it’s the small things that count. “I love that Ben makes me a cup of tea in the morning and I drink that while he eats his toast. He’s been making me tea for years and it always makes me feel cared for and loved,” she says.
Carol and Ben may have accidentally hit upon something with their ‘tea time’ – Dr Philip says always prioritising quality time with each other will ensure long lasting love. “Ensure you spend together time, uninterrupted,” she advises. “This may be a 10 min meal together at home or coffee together after your work day, without social media or phone call distractions, so you can discuss your day, focus on each other, smile, laugh and cuddle.”
So there you have it. Just like any long journey, there’ll be difficult stretches to navigate but if you can talk about them and smile, you’ll get through. Now, someone should make a film about that …
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