Love Advice from Long-Time Couples
By Lynn Lopez
Couples who are just starting out may find themselves wanting to give up after having disagreements that they simply don’t know how to deal with. So what does it take to make a relationship last for a year? We asked several couples for tips on how to make a relationship work and last as long as theirs has. Read on and see what pieces of advice you can use to help you solve problems or sidestep possible bumps on the road to a happy and healthy relationship.
Lee and Joana L., dated for 9 years, married for 5 years
It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship and mirror your partner’s habits and preferences, but Lee and Joana remind people to “continue to grow as your own person and don’t build your life around him or her.”
Cecile and Eugene A., married for 10 years, together for 17 years
Given how long they’ve been together, Cecile and Eugene are often asked for love advice. To those who worry about the sparks and giddy feeling fading, they say: “Don’t panic. It doesn’t mean your relationship is in trouble. It just means that you’re now learning to love, and not just being in love. Don’t worry—the giddy feeling will be back.” Cecile also reminds couples that relationships have their ups and downs. “Do you stick around only when th going is good and bolt when the going gets tough? Of course not.”
Joseph P. and Eleanor A., in a relationship for 9 years
Some people say that opposites attract, but can opposites maintain a long relationship? Eleanor says, “It helps to have fairly similar principles and views on, say, politics, religion, and even gender issues. If you’re with someone who believes in completely different things or makes you think your opinions are invalid, you’d wonder ‘Why am I with this person anyway?’” Joseph adds, “You don’t have to agree on everything 100 percent, but your beliefs shouldn’t be total opposites either.”
Hector and Rina S., married for 15 years
Hector and Rina make it a point to go on dates without bringing their children. “We celebrate our monthsary, too,” Rina says. Spending time together is one of their secrets to keeping each other happy, and they keep conflict at bay by making decisions together on important issues, so they won’t blame each other when things go wrong.
Rose and Claro F., married for 18 years
What gives you the determination to make your relationship work? “I believe that it is maturity. It takes a lot of effort to be able to try to understand what goes on in the head of another person. It takes a lot of energy to be there wen you are needed. And as we all know so well, it is so easy to be lured into giving up or stop trying. But it takes a lot of maturity to be able to focus and make your relationship work.”
Gerard and Marie B., married for 22 years
“We got married young so we encountered different issues, mostly due to out immaturity at the time. We also had financial problems,” Gerard shares. Good communication helped save their marriage. Marie says, “You have to talk about the issue at hand, be willing to solve the problem, and not give up,” while Gerard adds, “You also have to learn to listen to each other and accept your faults.”
Some new couples tend to put their best foot forward and not show who they really are. Marie advoses, “Show them the realy you, even the ugly parts. If they really love you, they’ll accept you no matter who you are. Be honest and don’t hid stuff just because you think it’ll upset them.”
Rina and Nathan Lozada, married for 23 years
Faith helps to keep Rina and Nathan’s marriage strong. “We take things in stride and commit to the thought that all problems are temporary. We try hard to cling to the Biblical verses that we abide by and teach our children—patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness”
It’s no big secret: relationships are hard work. Issues like personality differences, tempers, clashing opinions, and communication problems get in the way, and if you’re not ready for them, you’ll be kissing your relationship goodbye within months. If you’re willing to put in the effort, however, working through problems and challenges together is ultimately rewarding.
This was published in Zen Health February-April 2012 issue