101 Years of Commitment - Here's How to Make Relationships Last
I'm no expert by any means when it comes to relationships. I recently asked some friends and family to share their expertise on how to make relationships last. Together they have 101 years under their belt. Here's what they had to say:
Castina & Daniel: Together 7 years / Married 5 years
A lot has happened to us in our relationship and all of it has ended up making us closer. We met in Minnesota and dated for 7 months before Cassie moved to Colorado for her first teaching job and Dan moved to Kansas City, Missouri for medical school. Immediately after living apart we realized we were meant to be together. Dan proposed a couple months later and the following summer Cassie moved to Kansas City. We lived in downtown Kansas City for three years. While there, we got our dog, an English Bulldog named Sophie. After Dan graduated medical school, his military commitment brought him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a residency in Radiology located in the Washington D.C. metro area. We bought a home near the hospital and had our first baby in June of 2016.
Our life is hectic. Being a military medical resident demands of a lot of Dan’s time. We both work hard at what we are doing, and having a baby doesn’t make our schedule any easier. We make a conscious decision daily to prioritize our relationship. This doesn’t mean a weekly date night or frequent trips with just the two of us (though those do happen occasionally). This means to make the most of each moment. Text each other throughout the day, even if it is just to say hi, remind your spouse to give the dog a bath, or share a funny joke or meme. It means smacking you spouse's butt when you pass them in the kitchen and whispering in their ear how much you appreciate them while they make dinner. It means discussing potential issues or things that may hurt the others feelings, remembering that when you get angry, you lose. It means working as a team to build each other up. It means remembering you are equal. In our marriage, Dan is a military doctor and Cassie is a former teacher, currently staying home with the baby, and frequently volunteering. We view each other as 100% equal. We encourage each other to be the absolute best that we can be and work to raise each other up. We make decisions with the other person in mind. We appreciate that our relationship is strongly supported by our families. We eat together, try go to bed at the same time, attend church and pray together. Having our faith at the base of our relationship gives us a strong foundation to build on. We pay attention to each other's love language and make conscious efforts to ‘speak’ in that language to each other. (If you haven’t read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you should. Its the only life-help book either of us have ever read but we think about what it taught us all the time!) We also appreciate that we each need time to do our own things. Cassie frequently visits family and friends around the country, especially when Dan’s work schedule is nuts. Dan enjoys down time to play video games or create wood working projects. Providing a little alone time is important in maintaining your own identity while still strengthening your relationship.
Our best piece of relationship advice is to not take yourself too seriously. At the end of the day, it is necessary to laugh and smile with your spouse. It is necessary to forget about chores, dishes, and laundry and just take some time to relax together. We are a relatively new couple. We seek and appreciate the advice of older and more experienced couples. We pray to have decades more of love and happiness.
Carmen & Dan: Together 30 Years
We had great mentors in our lives when we were first married who gave us solid advice and guidance--especially in those first years of marriage when you're trying to figure it all out! We are incredibly grateful for them and their wisdom was beyond valuable in helping us and reminding us that even when things get tough to never give up.
As we've grown in our relationship and marriage, I would say that what has worked for us are a few things:
• We always find ways to share new adventures together. It would be easy to get in a rut and do our own thing, but we really love doing things together and honestly--we have the most fun with each other!
• We committed from the beginning to make our relationship work--no matter what. Our pastor who did our marriage counseling told us to make a commitment to never give up; that divorce was not an option. When things have been difficult, that advice rings loud in both of our heads and we find a way to work things out. We look past the current challenge and remember that we are committed and that we love each other unconditionally. And we work together to come up with a solution to beat the difficulties.
• We are affectionate with each other and we say I love you--a lot! It never gets old holding hands, giving bear hugs, and smooching. lol I think you always need to "date" each other, even after you're married, and be each other's biggest fan
Finally, for us, it is incredibly important to incorporate our faith into our relationship. We keep Jesus at the center and worship, pray, and serve together. It is something that gives us hope, support, and it is another element that makes us stronger together.
Hannah & Caleb: Together 4 years
Advice/What Makes Our Relationship Work: Do not decide a sassy lab puppy is a good idea. Just kidding. In all seriousness, no relationship is ever perfect. It is important to thank your significant other for the little things they do for you and your relationship. There is so much to be thankful for and so many things that your significant other does for you that can go unnoticed. When you recognize these things, then your relationship prospers.
Jessen & Janey: Together 7 years
We are both lucky enough to have grown up with great examples of what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. Janey’s grandparents (on both sides) each passed 65 years of marriage, and her parents have been married nearly 35 years. Jessen‘s parents will celebrate their 42nd anniversary this June. From that perspective, we’re just getting started.
When we were meeting with the priest, before our wedding, he asked us what being in love meant to us. Janey answered, “Love is when you both feel lucky to be with each other.” Her answer was so good, Father Luke used it in his sermon the next week.
For us, it still boils down to that sentence. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments. We trust each other implicitly, and support each other absolutely. We’ve done our best to build a relationship that is a true partnership, because we know that we’re better together than on our own. There will always be good days and days that aren’t so good, but when you’ve got your best friend in your corner, you feel like you can take on the world.
Alex & Jeremy: Together 11 years
R-E-S-P-E-C-T <find out what it means to us!>. Seriously though, respect is everything in any relationship and quite frankly, I'm not sure I understood how true that was until I met Jeremy. He's always been fairly vocal about the importance of respect and it's not that I didn't agree, but I can't say I truly understood the importance of such a value until we decided to take our relationship to the next level. By definition, respect means: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. <https://www.google.com/search?q=respect%
To us, this means that the foundation of the relationship must be respect for each other as people on a most basic level. That includes respecting each other's values, family, friends, career, life goals, irrational love for cats and Beyoncé...you know, everything! Make sure you understand what's important to each other and respect it without question (even if it may not be your favorite).
....and last but not least - my parents:
Ross & Sally:
In June, we will celebrate being married for 42 years. Here are some thoughts on making a relationship work that we have learned:
Before you begin a relationship, it is important to take time to get to know the other person. Make sure they are someone you enjoy spending time with and talking with. Make sure you share the same values and have similar goals in life. Once you know you actually love that person and are not just enjoying a temporary infatuation, making the commitment to working things out when disagreements arise, sharing the same faith, respecting each other and showing your love for each other enters in to make it a lasting, enjoyable relationship that builds each of you up and blesses your life.
If you want to have a committed life-long relationship it starts with the simple idea that it will be just that-life long. I do think that is what we have had from the beginning. We knew going into being married that it would last our whole lives. If you don't make that conscious decision at the beginning it seems to be that much easier to end a relationship.
Having a faith in God is essential for us and our life. Sharing that same faith with someone in a committed, life-long relationship strengthens that relationship. Even more than that it just makes life a more fulfilling and satisfying experience.
You need to be able to feel respect for your spouse as well as be able to show it no matter what it is that they are involved in.
EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE
A life long committed relationship lasts a long time. It is so easy to take each other for granted as you go about the day to day activities of life. Taking the time to express love to your spouse is so important but is also so easy to just not do. Take the time to do that. Be together and do things no matter how busy you get.