You know those juicy, exciting feelings you have in the beginning of a relationship? Well, our question is; Can we have those feelings after 25 years? Some of those dramatic feelings we felt at the beginning of our life together were based on sexual expectancy and the sheer fact of being seen so lovingly by this new person.
Two Kinds of Relationships
My husband and I have been together for 25 years. When I look around in the world at most people who’ve been together for many years I see one of two places the majority of couples end up.
Either they are “comfortable” with each other which means they fit like an old shoe and I imagine that he may come home and watch TV or read the sports section and she comes home and does her routine. They’re fond of each other but so are many brothers and sisters and long-term friends fond of each other.
The other extreme are those who are fed up with each other and living there own lives or thinking of divorce.
But we are in a third kind of relationship; a vibrant, healthy one. Some of what makes it healthy is the following:
Put Your Partner First
Being two mature adults with good self images, we have the flexibility to each know when we come first or when we need to put our partner first. For example, I like early morning but I never conceived of waking up each weekday by 4:15a.m. I always liked 5:30. Well, for the past four years my husband has taught high school and leaves the house before 6.
Since I want this older guy to live a lot longer, I prepare both a healthy breakfast and a healthy portable lunch. Also, since he comes home tired at the end of his long day, it has become our habit to connect over a cup of organic coffee before he leaves for work.
So although by putting him first I sacrifice my sleep, I do not feel resentful or like a martyr because he’s teaching so I can stay home and write and coach.
Tell the Emotional Truth Quickly
Years ago at the very beginning of our life together we learned a secret – tell the emotional truth quickly. You know those pesky feelings that start coming up after you’ve been in a relationship for awhile? The ones that may sound like, “Stop telling me what to do!” or “I’ve asked him a million times not to leave the @#$& toilet seat up”, but he still does it!
Yeah. Those. Well, everyone knows that your partner doesn’t want to hear what you are upset about so maybe you try to keep it in, and then the resentments build up. Or maybe you yell those feelings right out loud, get mad, walk out, slam doors. Whatever.
Believe it or not, the second way portends bigger success for the long term. But the key here is to communicate all your feelings not just the negatives. If you don’t know how to do this, find some help. Oh, and we have tweaked this to say, “check your timing.” If you want to be heard, don’t approach your partner when they can’t listen.
Take Full Responsibility for Your Relationship
Another vital answer to our long-term success is that we both take full responsibility for everything in our lives. Even when our partner is fed up with us, we know that we have created that, too. It’s not as if we are so perfect that we do this immediately but it is a deep, core value that we both hold and so we can each trust that the other will eventually get there.
Healthy Relationships Take Work and Intention
I can tell you many, many more reasons why we have a healthy relationship. But remember the question is how do we keep it fresh, fruitful and passionate? It takes work and intention.
When we get too comfortable and our relationship starts to feel so much like an old shoe that we don’t really pay attention to, that we know is there but doesn’t excite us, we make a date. That date may look like going on a vacation to our favorite spot and BEING with each other.
For us that looks like no TV, no internet, no phones. It also looks like reading together, walking in the woods together, hanging out in laid back, quiet coffee places and investigating the deeper parts of our human journey both as a couple and as individuals.
Mini versions of that occur on an as-needed basis at home, undressed, with no phone answering and no email and no time constraints. We’ve adopted a practice of telling each other what we love about each other and really hearing what each other is saying which tends to make the intimacy happen more quickly.
And, most importantly, we look for what might make us a little shy or scared to share and we share it. It’s the untapped places in each other that we dare to share that create the relationship over and over again.