When I started my relationship with my husband, I was fiercely independent. I owned my own home because I didn’t feel a man needed to provide that for me. I was in college when I bought it. We began living with each other. “Living together” or “taking it day by day” were the mantras of the 60s and 70s.
I maintained my own sense of self throughout my relationship. I was an artist. I created my own world that was separate of his. But we were a couple, having a child, and learning how to be a family. Both of us came from dysfunctional families so we tried to better ourselves. We started reading books, attending child development classes and started talking about our own issues with how we were raised by our parents.
I think what’s needed in a long term relationship was to allow each other to be fiercely free and independent. What we realized was to have our own goals in life and our own interests. We believed that we were two people working as one. The “one” was the family. Planning activities with the family, eating healthy as a family, talking as a family, working as a family, supporting and helping out as a family.
It was a balancing act that took a great deal of determination but it worked.
1) Keep being independent and dependent – “let people have their space and then when you come together, enjoy your time together”
2) Keep communication paths open even if each person has a different path – “You have to learn to listen, to soften, to get off your high horse and hear what the other person is saying”
3) Be there when each other is going through vulnerable times – “Especially through the aging process and the physical pain that the each one may be going through”
4) Have sexual intimate time together – “Whether it be kissing, touching or being playful, sex is not just intercourse. But sex still can be good at 60”
5) Depend on each other – “Kind words can help each of us through the day. Use the phone, or email, just thank them”
It is always wonderful to me to remember I can still be with my significant other even though the crap of the world was what I was up against that day