Long Term Relationships: Finally, at 41, I Get It by @weezafish
I wish – as many of us do when we’re older – that I’d had the knowledge of how to handle a long-term relationship when I was eighteen that I have now. Forever after, the Princess and the handsome Prince? Yeah, right.
But our very experiences in life teach us most things so I write the following tips with hindsight as much for SW readers as for my children. Maybe I can get them to read this when they reach about sixteen or so?
Not When You’re Young
We’re talking shared lives, commitment, being a family, kids. Growing old together and happy (mostly) ever after. Things are, thankfully changing, but still for a lot of women in particular, the want for this kind of relationship starts at a very young age. I’m not sure why we do it, let our boys develop more slowly and naturally yet teach our girls to protect themselves, hang on to their virginity, keep their hearts for that special Handsome Prince who’s coming someday and yet also make them feel it should all happen by the time they’re twenty.
Young women, as infused with new sexual feelings as the young men but conflicted and confused by their “wait for my Prince” mindset. And the boys. Out having fun, experiencing life. Sowing their oats. Princess who? “It’s okay Mum, Dad told me about condoms already …” Youth is a time for experiencing relationships, having fun and figuring out what works.
It’s Not All About You
Throughout the world, that’s been heard in many a marital row I’m sure. The very point of a long-term relationship is to SHARE. Lives, experiences, love, children. Socks and toothbrushes sometimes.
Still so many of us go into a relationship with selfish plans and expectations. Entertain and vocalise (quite loudly) our dreams, ambitions and wants whilst putting our partners on the sidelines, second in our efforts. They can look after themselves surely?
But where’s the partnership? The coming together of lives? The support? It’s all about loving your partner enough to want for them as much as you do for yourself. Not more, but as much. And it’s about finding those common dreams too and working together.
And if kids come along, and your lives are firmly entangled? Then the ‘United Front’ becomes all the more important. Unless you want your toddlers running rings around the pair of you that is. Trust me, been there on the occasion, you don’t.
Retain Your Independence, Even in a Long Term Relationship
I’m just contradicting myself surely? Did I not just say …? Okay, but as much as we’re sharing and united here there’s also two, individual, solo people in a relationship. Sometimes more, but usually two.
We may hope to be with someone who has all the same interests and wants in life, but in reality there will also be a lot of times when you disagree, want totally different things and that’s okay too. Within your relationship and your life plans together, you must also give each other space to be individuals, as well as half of a couple.
Good sex and plenty of it too, you’re in a relationship now it’s not time to be shy. Rather, now’s the time to relax and experience with someone you trust. Really learn what turns you both on. Share what you both want, what you like and make for some really good loving. Hubba hubba.
GIVE to each other too, don’t just take. Don’t have sex only when you feel like it, and don’t only ever do things that you like to do. Be open, try new things. The reason? Because it makes someone you love feel good!
And make love as often as possible. No really. It keeps us young, chills us out and puts a big silly smile on our faces.
You have to talk, you have to listen. Don’t presume to know, ask and listen. Don’t presume they know, talk and explain. Simple as.
Each of you is one half of a partnership, equal in standing in your lives together to one another. Compromise has to happen at times, but it should always be fair.
Shift the focus from time to time if it feels one of you is taking priority over the other, respect each other as partners and ensure you stand side by side. Standing in the shadows of somebody else in a relationship is not good for anyone involved.
Honesty is so important, when in a lifetime relationship or one you hope to last a lifetime you come to trust your partner more than anybody else. That trust MUST be respected at all times. Don’t lie or be dishonest to your partner, it can cause much damage and cost you both all the trust you build up.
If you did tell a porker, ‘fess up! Honesty’s really not that bad, in most cases the lie is much worse than the thing we feel the need to lie about.
And whether you like it or not, once you’ve been in a relationship with someone long enough they can tell when you’re not being truthful anyway. Nothing worse than knowing somebody you trust is lying to you, while they continue to think they’re fooling you otherwise.
Save the Fights for the Big Stuff
Life is full of crapness, as well as full of wonder. Don’t expect the fact that you’ve found your love, and you’re happily sharing your lives together to mean that your relationship won’t experience plenty of life’s’ crap as well as plenty of the wonder.
When the crap comes, and it will, sort your problems out calmly and try and get back on track as quickly as you can. Keep personal feelings out of problems in your lives that in actuality have nothing to do with your feelings for each other and yet can still cause big rows. Moneys a big one. But also differences in opinion and common problems that occur in all relationships rather than personal, actual, big problems in yours.
Take a step back in bad times, take away all the outside influences and turn to each other rather than blaming or turning on each other. Still loving? You can overcome life’s crap much better together so try and reconnect if outside things are pulling you apart and work on your problems as a team.
Keep it Real
As well as life being crap at times, so are people. Yup, even the ones we love the most. It’s very hard if you feel your partner’s let you down in some way but try and remember, it is our own expectations of others that cause the letdown feelings. More often than not it’s not the intention of your loved one at the time. So try and forget the fairy tales and movie romances, you’ll just end up one of those folk who is always complaining about their relationship or trying to change their partner into ‘what they want’.
Fully be yourself and get to know and love your partner, warts and all, rather than expect them to be any kind of perfect.
Because perfect isn’t real and true love, the kind that makes you feel secure, the kind that makes you feel you’ll be loved forever, is truly and happily loving each other despite knowing the worst.
Don’t Sit Back, Keep Loving
That ‘settled in’ feeling. It happens sometime down the line into most long-term relationships, usually after you’ve hit a few problems and managed to overcome them, also after marriage sometimes. A secure feeling, that you can overcome the odds and that this relationship of yours is ‘the one’ so you don’t have to try any more. And it’s this stage I believe, that the old impression of a couples sex life dying after marriage and the ‘Seven Year Itch’ syndrome stems from.
Because a lot of us tend to sit back on our laurels at this point and get a bit lazy. Loving in a “yeah yeah, of course we love each other” kind of way.
Keep LOVE-ING. Yes your partner loves you warts and all, but that doesn’t mean they want to see the warts every day nor does it mean you can let yourself go and forget about simple laws of attraction, or being a good lover. Don’t lose that sense of trying that you had when you first got together.
Smiling, caring, tenderness, thoughtfulness, fun. Don’t let the routine and realities of life, the sometimes crappy nature of each other or the comfortableness of your knowledge of each other ever take away from that love you found and don’t ever stop nurturing it.
Don’t just love each other every day, try and want each other every day and try and laugh together every day too.