Chris and I have been together for 13 years this fall, living together for 10 of those years. If you ask me where those years went, I have no idea. They went by in a flash, and while it feels like we met each other yesterday, it also feels like we’ve known each other forever, both at the same time.
And thinking about it, 13 years almost DO feel like forever. I mean; it’s almost half my life, isn’t it? What I do know that these years have been filled with exciting travels, romantic evenings at home, living in three different places, spending time with our beautiful friends, becoming “parents” of two amazing fluff-balls, laughter, holidays, and everyday life, which I guess is what life exist of, for the most part. Everyday life, I mean.
Nothing says togetherness to me like an evening midweek with a decent dinner and relaxing together at home, watching our current favorite series or playing video games. ‘Home together’ is still my favorite place on earth. ♥︎
Friends and acquaintances are often astounded by the longitude of our relationship. I am too, sometimes. Not because I’m not looking forward to the next 13 years (I really do), but because, heck, THIRTEEN YEARS, it’s a pretty long time! How did we do it?
Well, I guess there’s no ‘one size fits all’ recipe for sticking together for more than a decade, but below follow a few pointers that I think has helped us in keeping the love alive.
7 tips for keeping the love alive:
1. Choose each other every day
A friend of mine recently got married. One of her tasks at her bridal shower was to gather up marital advice from people in the street. My main advice to her, and to all who might ask, is – choose each other every day. Maybe it sounds strange to you but think about it. Loving someone is not only a feeling, but a choice. Feelings, romantic or otherwise, may fluctuate due to outer circumstances, but if you daily make the choice that were you are is where you belong and that your grass is worth watering, it’s easier to make things work.
I know that sometimes a person in a failed or ended relationship might say: “Oh, he/she just didn’t need me anymore”. To this, I have always thought that – in a relationship – it’s ok to stop needing each other as long as one doesn’t stop wanting each other. This is what the choice is about – I choose to want my partner in my life. And, the days where this wanting might seem difficult, I choose to stay and work on it and make it right. It’s not to say that you should evaluate your relationship daily, not at all. It simply implies that I make a daily commitment to working towards the goal of “forever”, because relationships take work, dedication and consideration, both for each other and for our joint future.
2. Share daily routines
Our lives are mostly built up of weekdays. It can be easy to neglect the togetherness with a partner in the hectic routines of full packed weekdays and evenings. Yet, if a healthy relationship is our goal, we cannot base our togetherness solely on weekends and holidays, can we? I know that not every couple are as close-knit as Chris and I have become. Some might even think we’re borderline crazy and too dependent on each other (and we might be, but we like it this way, so we don’t really care), but one of the things I cherish in our relationship is how we share daily routines together.
Each evening, for instance, we brush our teeth together in the bathroom. Brushing teeth is a rather boring and mundane task in itself, but doing it together makes it less boring, and adding some silliness and goofing around to the process (i.e. dancing and making faces) makes it a daily bonding moment; something that is just us and life.
We also make a point of always getting up to have breakfast and coffee together in the early mornings. Even if Chris leaves for work around 7 am and I currently work from home. It gives us valuable time together throughout the work week, which otherwise leaves little room for spending time at home together. And, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Your routine does not have to be our routine, of course. But if you feel like everyday life is getting in the way of your quality time with your partner, why not find a daily routine that you can do together? I promise you, it’s worthwhile!
3. Say “I love you”
This one is probably pretty obvious for many, but – I think after some years together, many couples think this is a given and thus underestimate the power of the spoken word. You don’t have to be as eager as us if you think it’s too overboard (Chris and I usually say ‘I love you’ or something to that avail several times a day) but voicing your affection to your loved one on a regular basis is probably not a bad habit to adopt.
And, should these words seem too big for daily use, it leads us to the next advice:
4. Show your affection
Ok, so there’s apparently a whole science on different people’s preferred love language, and I’m not going to talk much about this in this post. It’s got something to do with the different signs of love people prefer and relate to – verbal, action, gift giving etc. But – even if the spoken word goes a long way, like I highlighted in the previous paragraph, words aren’t necessarily worth much if not followed by action.
If it’s buying roses on an ordinary Tuesday night, emptying the dishwasher after breakfast a busy Monday morning, or simply planting a firm kiss on your lover’s lips when they least expect it, that’s up to you. These small gestures reinforce the other person’s belief in your love for them.
5. Don’t stop dating
It’s easy in a long-term relationship to forget the joys that can be found in going out and sharing a meal together. Holding on to a kind of dating routine is one of the ways in which Chris and I nourish our relationship. It helps, of course, that it’s one of our favorite things to do together – dining out and having casual conversation over a shared meal.
Meeting for a date, just the two of you, is a good way to keep the feelings of togetherness intact, offering a time-off from life’s pending demands at the same time.
6. Give compliments
Ok, who does not love compliments? (Yeah, I know, not everyone is good at receiving them, myself included at times) And who better to shower them with than the one you love? Besides saying I love you, giving your partner compliments for today’s outfit, the effort around the house, an accomplishment at work, goes a long way in expressing the love you have for them.
Even just reminding them how handsome or pretty you think they are every now and again, can be just what your loved one need to keep them assured of how special they are to you.
7. Date your best friend
Ok. So, while all the above tips shouldn’t be undermined, I think the most important reason for us having managed to be sticking together all these years, is that we’re best friends. Each day with Chris feels like having a sleepover with my bestie, and I would not have it any other way. Being best friends means that we very much enjoy each other’s company and that we miss each other when we’re apart. It means that we laugh together. It means that we play together. It means that we share common interests. It means that we care for one another on a deep and profound level. And, well, it kind of also means that we apply the above actions almost subconsciously, because that’s how you treat your best friend, isn’t it? If you make sure to never take each other for granted, that is.
So, basically, these tips right here are the ones I find most significant in terms of what keeps love strong for years to come. Of course, together with the importance of prioritizing, respecting and supporting each other.
What do you think? Do you agree with the list above? Do you have some of your own to add? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!