Last night after a few too many glasses of wine (who me?) and a lovely sunset boat cruise with an old friend, I asked this same old friend about his marriage.
“How long have you two been blissfully wedded?” queried I.
He replied “38 years.”
“And are you still blissfully and lovingly entwined?” continued my interrogation.
He smiled and responded happily “Indeed we are. Still in love after all these years.”
I paused to consider my next question. I’m not exactly shy when it comes to … well … pretty much anything … but sometimes I know I do ask too many questions and I do get kinda nosy. I took a deep breath and jumped in yet again.
“Okay then, tell me kind sir, what are the three things that have kept you and your beautiful bride in love all these years?”
“THREE things?” he countered, the wheels already spinning.
“Yes,” I affirmed. “I’d like to know the three biggest things that have kept you IN your relationship 100%. Not just sorta, kinda. Not just when you feel like it or it suits you. Full-fledged IN LOVE after 38 years.
He paused to sip his wine and ponder. But not for too long because this intelligent and astute gentleman had already figured it out. he had already figured it out because he was living it. And had been for 38 years.
“We like being together. We like doing the same things. And we have great sex.”
There you have it, dear readers. The three simple yet complicated, easy yet difficult, succinct yet SO open to interpretation reasons why a couple can make love last.
1. They like being together.
Makes sense, right? You really should want to hang out with your beloved if you expect the union to flourish, no?
Well, I know many couples who hang out very little. I know some couples who lead virtually separate lives. I know couples who bicker all the time (leading me to believe they don’t actually enjoy one another’s company) and I know couples who “fake” partnership when in truth they are truly just in it for the money, the status, the religion or the kids.
But really LIKING your partner’s company? THAT is a big fat blessing. But a blessing that needs to be considered and remembered and nurtured and cultivated. Because I do believe that like most blessings, it is not always delivered by a unicorn. Rarely, in fact (unless you know something about unicorns that I don’t). The blessing may have arrived at some magical point all tied up in a pretty bow but as time wears on even pretty sparkly blessings need nourishment. They need attention. They need work!
So yeah … WORK on being together. WORK on liking to be together. Which leads to the next step:
2. They like doing the same things.
Yes, I can certainly surmise that a couple that shares similar interests will enjoy each other’s company more frequently than two people with completely diverse pastimes. That said, I do also believe that you do not have to share EVERY hobby with your partner. If he likes to climb mountains and you like to make music, go for it.
I just believe that the scales should tip far more in favour of the things you like to do together. Because if they don’t, he’ll soon be climbing a mountain and sharing a tent with his cute climbing partner while you fall in love with the guitar player in your band.
Now I’m not saying that has ever happened. I’m just saying that the MORE separate hobbies you enjoy, the more likelihood you will find yourself enjoying them with someone like-minded. Who is not your partner.
So yeah … WORK on finding things you like to do together. Then WORK on doing them. Together.
3. And then there is this final sweet little kicker. GREAT SEX.
Do you really NEED to have a lifetime of great sex to remain contentedly mated?
I know couples who after several decades of wedded bliss rarely have sex. I mean rarely as in once a year. Once every two years. REALLY rarely.
And yet they stay together because they like doing the same things. They like being together. They have children together, they own real estate together, they share a bank account, several scrapbooks full of memories and just a huge history of BEING together. So even if the whole sex thing is no longer a biggie, they stay together and seemingly flourish.
I mean I guess it’s possible. And do-able.
I guess. But my guess is it is only possible and do-able if they are BOTH exactly on the same page. Because if one of them is totally fine (relieved, in fact) with the lack of physical intimacy and the other pretends to be a-okay too but is secretly boinking outside the union, how can that union flourish? I mean, it might survive and it might endure but flourish? I don’t think so. because flourishing involves intimacy. And intimacy comes from really and truly being on the same page. Honestly. Openly.
My pal D tells me that sex no longer plays any significant role in his 40 year marriage. At least not for him and his wife. She has lost interest and he has lost motivation. With HER. He just gets his sex elsewhere. He has no intention of abandoning his wife nor does he feel the need to seek a full-on soulmate in other climes. Like an amputee missing a leg, he has accepted that his marriage will always be lacking. So he has learned to walk on crutches. Maybe even dance on occasion. Just not with his wife. She is not invited to the dance, she doesn’t even know about the dance and she is quite possibly contentedly oblivious to the dance.
They have somehow achieved a lop-sided, discombobulated detente. She doesn’t know, he doesn’t tell and onward they go in blissfully ignorant incorporation. They stay married, they stay family, they have moments and they make memories.
They just don’t make love.
Or have great sex.
So the question now begs … how many of these three elements do you absolutely NEED to achieve long-lasting love?
If you like to go downhill skiing and bake bread and plant gardens and you like doing those things together, will that off-set your inability to get jiggy with one another in the bedroom. If you have rip-snorting, bodice-ripping coitus but you actually can’t stand hanging out at the dinner table, does your union have a chance? If you like being together over dinner or Netflix but you actually have no common hobbies or a satisfactory sex life, do you have a hope in hell of surviving?
Honestly, I have no fucking clue.
I do believe that IF you are so fortunate to have all three (like my friend) you should thank your lucky stars and keep doing the WORK to keep these things alive. Do not take it for granted and do not assume it will always be there. We are ALL one step away from screwing something up ROYALLY.
If two of these are in your account please see above and then start working on #3. Yes. That is what I said. Start working on #3.
I would like to believe that if you are still together it is because you actually DO like being together (on some level) and you will be able to move directly to figuring out things you like to DO together. And then doing them. You know. Together.
So now it’s all about sex.
With each other.
How do you fix that when it is so much easier to ignore the problem and carry on in blissful ignorance?
The only answer I can come up with is BE HONEST. With your partner, not your secret lover. Put sex back ON the table (or the piano or the kitchen counter or even the bed!). Unless you are truly willing to live life as an amputee when you STILL have ALL your limbs, do the WORK.
Yeah. It always comes back to the WORK. Not the easy route. Not the quick fix or the simple solution.
I could be wrong but my guess is my old friend who so succinctly answered my question has been doing the work for 38 years. Solidly. Happily.
Either that or there really is a unicorn up his ass.
I do LOVE his three components to a “loving” partnership. I love that he shared them with me and i got to share them with you.
I would also love to hear form you if you think there are more.