Both my husband’s and my grandparents have been married for 70 years. It is an almost unfathomable length of time. It is incredible to think about the things that they have witnessed as a couple; the way the world, and relationships, have changed all while they were married. So who better to ask for relationship advice than people who have been through it all. Life, love, loss. Here is what they say makes a relationship last a literal lifetime.
Date Your Spouse. I know it sounds silly or cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason. Until a few years ago my grandparents had a standing date night once a week. They went out to dinner and a movie just the two of them. They spent time as partners outside of being parents, grandparents and friends. The made the time and space for just the two of them. My husband’s grandparents have an hour each night before dinner where they sit and talk without distraction or interruption. For both couples this is a small way for them to stay connected to each other in an ever changing world. Check out these great date ideas or these hidden gems and plan (or have your partner plan) your own date.
Have Your Own Interests. This one is so vital and I say that not only as someone in a relationship, but also as a therapist. As a partner, and a parent, it is important to maintain a sense of self. We wear so many hats: mother, wife, sister, coworker, friend. What about the original? What about who you are and what you love? My grandmother has always exercised, for as long as I can remember she has gone to a workout class or been a member of a gym. Yes, even in her late 80s she’s still working out. Other interests mention were things like like being members of social groups, serving on boards, having collections, or just taking walks or walking the dog, and chatting with their own friends or neighbors. Having individual interests allows them to maintain a sense of self outside of their decades long relationships.
Travel. This may be my favorite one! Get out of your routine, see the state, the country, the world. Traveling opens up so much conversation. Be it a road trip back “home,” taking the kids to a national park, or a big family adventure. Getting out and getting away provides a different type of connection. Both couples have commented on the ways that traveling builds a different type of bond and their children and grandchildren also acknowledge the way traveling has inspired them and made memories that last a lifetime.
Relationships are work. They can be easy at times and hard in others. Thinking about relationships I came to one conclusion: if your relationship is young, five, twenty, or even seventy years strong the lesson for me was that, in the end, the most important thing is to make time for each other.