It’s Valentine’s Day this week people! Are you psyched? Do you have plans with your beloved? Or is this just another day for you?
While our plans have not exactly been fleshed out yet, Hubs and I will most certainly take the time to celebrate this holiday in one way or another. It’s tradition for us. At the very least, Valentine cards will be exchanged, and a dinner not made by us will be enjoyed. Nothing too fancy or exciting, but it certainly isn’t going to be just another, regular, uneventful day for us.
I can safely say that I’ve got some experience when it comes to romantic love. Hubs and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage this coming May. I’d say that qualifies me for sharing the best long term romantic relationship advice I can shell out, correct?
Me and Hubs in beautiful Colorado, 2018
I could say things like “Never go to bed angry” (yes, solid advice but we have all heard it before). Or “Have weekly date nights” (easier said than done, am I right?).
But I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to share with you what I have found works for Hubs and I. The things we’ve discovered along the way that keep us together. Keep us satisfied. Keep us interested in staying married.
- Celebrate every chance you get. Revel in the mundane. This might mean an impromptu dinner date with your beloved just because it’s Friday and you both made it through the week unscathed. Or maybe a meeting got canceled for one of you, leaving you unexpected time and space to spend together, so you decide to uncork that bottle of wine you bought on vacation two years ago that has only been serving as a dust collector that whole time.
- Engage in activities together which you both enjoy in equal measure. I think it’s safe to say that every long term couple out there has got at least one activity they both enjoy doing. Do it together! Maybe it’s cooking. Or hiking. Or antiquing. Or collecting bobble-head dolls. Whatever it is, enjoy it together as often as you possibly can. Some serious bonding and great memories are to be had if you do.
- Give each other a break. Be kind always. If your partner comes home cranky and bone-tired at the end of the day, give them a hug. Have a plan B if the original plan was to go out and socialize with others. Be okay with that. Trust me on this one, it took me years to get to the point where I could do this without any resentment. And it’s given me much peace.
- Make your relationship a priority. If you have kids, don’t hyper focus on them. Don’t let your entire world revolve around them all of the time. They will only be in your day to day lives for so long. Remember that the time will come, and quicker than you think, where it’s just the two of you again, like it was in the beginning.
- Make time on a regular basis to talk about your future together. The hopes and dreams you have. The perceived obstacles to achieving your dreams. Problem solve together. Put it all out there. This gives you a path. Things to look forward to, a north star for your relationship. Don’t allow yourselves to simply slug through every day like bots, focusing solely on the present.
- Encourage each other’s personal hobbies. I think we have more to bring to the table in our relationships when we take time to do things on our own. For instance, Hubs decided when he turned 48 last year that he wanted to teach himself a musical instrument. He told me that he wanted to engage the left (or is it the right?) side of his brain, since so much of his work time as an IT project leader relies heavily on the right (or is it the left?) side. So he bought himself a ukulele. He practices it regularly, with my encouragement and blessing. I’ve noticed a change in his life outlook and that his sense of playfulness has increased since taking up this fun hobby. For his part, he is highly supportive of me and my blogging. So much so, that (as I mentioned here), he bought me my very own Chromebook specifically for blogging. I think by encouraging each other’s individual hobbies we are showing respect for each other’s autonomy. If we each have pursuits that provide enjoyment to us, it’s only natural that those good vibes will affect our relationships in a positive way.
- One thing I can’t stress enough when it comes to long term couplings such as ours is the importance of being a good roommate. Peace and harmony become the norm as opposed to the exception in the day to day when both partners choose to share their living space thoughtfully. Little things go a long way. Such as taking care of the laundry before the pile gets too big and without having to be asked. Cleaning up the dishes you dirtied while playing your video game in the home office. Asking your partner if they would mind if you turn on your music, before turning on said music. I’m not talking about catering to your partner and constantly putting their needs and preferences first; I’m talking about giving the consideration to your partner that you want to receive from them.
- And since I’m giving long term romantic relationship advice here, I would be remiss to not mention a key element in any successful long term pairing: Sex. I mean, when you think about it, it’s what brought you together in the first place. Not that you and your beloved hopped in the sack the minute you first locked eyes (not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with that), but honestly, would one really make the choice to embark on a long term relationship without being sexually attracted to their partner? I think not. So make time for it. Keep your expectations realistic. It’s not always going to be knock-your-socks-off orgasmic bliss. And that is ok. It is normal, in fact. Enjoy the skin to skin contact. The eye to eye contact. The intimate pillow talk, expressing how you feel about each other and the life you’ve created together. Plan for this on a regular basis. Savor this time together.