What is it like being together for what seems like a lifetime? We ask couples who have stood the test of time and they dish their best advice for staying better together…
AN INSTANT CONNECTION THAT LASTS
Patrick and Veronica
Years together: 36
Simplicity Goes A Long Way
I made him wait three months before I said yes to marrying him. I’ve learned that patience and tolerance goes a long way. Once you do get married though, take your vows seriously because marriage is for life, have date nights whether it’s a simple dinner out or watching a movie on the telly, give each other space. Don’t sweat the small stuff and always forgive and forget. Love is about compromise. You should always remember what’s important in life and that is the family you’ve nurtured and built together.
It may be a cliché but… your wife is always right! Listen to her and don’t ever question her decisions. Let her win every argument, don’t go to bed angry and always try and make her laugh as laughter is the best medicine. As you get older you learn to take each day as it comes and the fact that you give each other room to do their own thing is definitely a recipe for a long marriage. After all, absence really does make the heart grow fonder!
HAPPY BEING ALONE TOGETHER
Amir & Atifi
Years together: 12
Finding True Contentedness
In our case, being friends first allowed us to get to know each other – most of our quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Some may say that you can always get to know someone after marriage, especially when you’ve had a short courting period but personally, knowing what you’re getting yourself into is important.
Once you’ve accepted that neither of you are perfect, you’ll be able to be more content with each other. I will probably complain about a bad habit or the other, but at the end of the day, I accept it because it comes with the package – as long as it’s not life-threatening or dangerous! For example, he works in a line where his schedule is erratic. Sometimes I only see him when I wake up in the morning. I understand that sometimes it’s not by choice. I don’t give him a hard time about it because I know he’d rather spend time with me at home, cuddling up with our little girl.
I’ve had bad days and found that just spending time with my spouse can make the day better. Consequently, as I became more thoughtful about my spouse, I became more thoughtful about others so I suppose a happy relationship ended up making me a better person. I’ve also learned through being with my partner that I could live in isolation with just Atifi and I (and now with our baby) and I’d be contented with just that. It does sound a bit antisocial but I really do enjoy the time we spend alone.
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE
Sea Yen & Sze Yoong
Years together: 15
Learn Your Love Language
The concept of a Love Language was mind blowing to me during our marriage counselling days. In short, there are 5 love languages (Touch, Time, Words, Gifts, Action). Many of us perceive love in different ways depending on many factors during our lives. Two of my prominent love languages was Time and Touch. I love hugs and kisses. And I didn’t mind just being in his presence, even if we were doing separate things. That’s how I feel loved. But Sea Yen’s love language was words of affirmation and gifts which were so different from mine. Consequently, if we went on thinking that our spouse will love us in the way we perceive love, we would end up wondering why they don’t love us but in actual fact if we are aware of their love language, we can love them in a way they actually feel loved. I think that’s extremely important for a happy marriage.
We had a roller coaster relationship during our dating years; there were two bad breakups in between the years before I popped the question. That to me was a clear sign that if we were able to withstand the test of trial and time, this was the girl for me as I couldn’t imagine growing old with anyone else. So I bought the ring!
To withstand the tests of time and trial, I’d say communication is key. Be transparent with each other and build a foundation based on trust.
It is also important to know each other’s love languages because both of you will need to exercise that over and over again throughout the years. Your partner’s primary love language could surprise you even if you’ve been together a long time. Knowing your partners love language will also help you build an ‘emotional bank’. You cannot withdraw from an empty bank!
SHARING A BIRTHDAY AND A LIFE
Andy & Angie
Years together: 16
How To Weather The Storms
I’d say never be afraid to show your other half love. Constantly show it to them, prove it to them and never assume your partner knows what you’re thinking even if you’ve been together for a long time. Communication through verbal and physical channels is important. Listening is also more important than just talking through your problems. I learned that the hard way when we hit a rough patch and almost gave up on one another but we managed to pull through it through listening.
It’s never easy spending such a long time together, there are tears and there is joy. Think of it (a relationship) as a plant; you plant a seed in a pot, fertilise, water and look after it and the whole process will take some time before you see results. But the plant will eventually give you fruits in return and eventually, when it grows mature enough, you won’t need to water or fertilise it as much anymore and it will give you much more abundant fruits as it has grown into a tree you can rely on.
By: Shakila Rajendra