"Meet me! The best is not yet, the last of the life for which he became the first." -Robert Browning
Relationships and marriages come with all kinds of expectations. We often hear the words "forever" and "life" used when discussing weddings. Until recently, long-term monogamy has been a target for young people in committed relationships. The expectation is that we will love each other all our lives, we grow up together in married bliss. As a couples consultant, I often hear these expectations from clients in my office practice. Ideal love, romantic love, passion, desire, connection: will they last forever?
For some people, I think they will. However, there are many variables that determine longevity in relationships. Expectations are one of them. The rigor and unwillingness to change, grow, and adapt will surely affect the longevity of a love relationship. We haven't been the same people in recent years. Not emotionally, not mentally, and certainly not naturally. The season and the course of time, and we are vulnerable to their impact on our lives and relationships.
The reality is that change is a constant. Our interactions and experiences force us to grow and evolve into the people we become. If we are willing and open to it, we will continue to evolve and grow as individuals and as a couple for the rest of our lives. There is no age or time when learning and development stops. You never have to.
The secret to a lasting relationship is for both parties to accept the reality that their partner is not the same person they were 10, 20, 30 years ago, and neither are they. When a couple can accept this, they are able to embrace the changes in themselves and in their partner and to treat them kindly throughout the process. The excitement in an authentic long-term relationship is that you have to be with a new person all the time. Every person you become your partner is someone new to discover and fall in love with.
Problems arise when one or both partners become stuck in their perception of the other person who was important to them. They do not see the change and development of this person. Or maybe the person is not open to development and hangs. They risk losing the relationship because they are unwilling to accept new changes in their partner or support this development.
Aging with a loved one requires acceptance of natural changes, inability to do what we once did, and even from mild to severe cognitive deficits that occur with our age. It takes a lot of patience to deal with diminished health issues or to show love when people are less enjoyable. But that's what they need most in love.
Adapt and thrive
It is possible to have a strong and loving relationship in your golden years. Understand that all relationships go through peaks and valleys, ups and downs. There will be times when you think everything is lost. Other times you will feel like you want to stay that way forever. They are all variable. fluid and dynamic.
The best advice I can give my clients is to be grateful, to be appreciative and to never take your loved one for granted. Try to stay in the habit of being polite, no matter what happens in this cycle of your life. Try to see that having someone in your life who you can love and who loves you back is a great gift.
Be willing to adapt to what you need. As you grow older, you need to change your approach to everything in life as your physical abilities change. Sexuality is one area in which adaptability is vital. You may need to use different posts, shorter sessions, or medication. But you never have to give up on sex unless you choose to. It can be an amazing and special part of your relationship to the end of your life.
Talk to each other about everything. Tell your partner what you need and encourage them to express your needs to you. Then set out to meet those needs. Give your partner what they need to continue to feel loved by you and feel valued. Show them daily how grateful you are to have them in your world.
The excitement in an authentic long-term relationship is that you have to be with a new person all the time. Every person you become your partner is someone new to discover and fall in love with.Talk about the hard stuff. When things are tough for them, be supportive. Don't always try to fix things. Sometimes a listening ear is what they really need. Talk about how you can both adjust and try to make things better.
Encourage each other to feel important and loved. It's hard to feel old and unattractive. Tell your partner that you still find them desirable. Show them.
Let your partner know that you are still seeing him for who he is and love him even more now than afterwards. Build each other up and spend quality time together. Have fun and laugh a lot. Talk about the future. design your golden years that include favorite interactions and new adventures.
Talk about your fears and plan for the unforeseen. You never know what life will throw at you next. The most important thing to remember is that you are in it together. You're stronger together.
Long term monogamy
Through the ups and downs of your relationship, you probably have other people's attractions. You may have had debris and flirting. It is normal to try this. We are all human with basic sexual desires that can be activated by someone other than our partner. The question is, what happens when you see a new attractive person? Are you dealing with this desire? Or do you realize that the best thing that has happened to you is right there at home, and fooling yourself and moving home?
Long term monogamy is a great way to have a relationship. Monogamy can be sexy, exciting and ultimately satisfying. There's something so wonderful about being in a late-life relationship where you can look back on decades of memory, shared experiences and joy with a feeling of accomplishment that you saw through the difficult times and the good and I made it all the way to the gold years together. You and your love can enjoy the end of your life knowing that you have gone through it all together and that you are stronger and more in love than ever.
© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Publication permission is provided by Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW, therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona
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