I have been very blessed and lucky too, to grow up with my parents. They met in 1961, married in 1963 and are still so in love that complete strangers walk up to them on the street in New Zealand or when they are travelling in America or Australia and ask them about their relationship. Here are some things I learned from them about how to be happy for the long term
1 Choose someone on character and values.
Make sure you have thought about the type of person you're looking for; what are the values and character you need them to have? Keep this in mind at all times as shared values are one of the keys to a happy long term relationship. When my dad talks about meeting my mum he says she had character in her face. They met at a dance and as he got to know her he realised how much their values aligned. 53 years later obviously their looks have changed, but their values haven't.
2 Marriage is only for the mature
My father always said 'marriage is only for the mature' He said pick a partner who is a grown up. Even if marriage isn't what you are looking for, even if you are happy to live with someone – you need someone with emotional maturity if you are wanting a long term relationship/to be able to sustain a long term relationship for the long term.
3 Focus on their positives
90 - 95 % of the success of a relationship is in the selection but once you have made a good choice, focus on their good points. Many people don't realise that being in a relationship is constant effort and constant choice about what you focus on. My father talked about his Aunty Ella – she had always been critical of her husband, and as soon as he died at the age of 49 she remembered his good points, what a good kind man he was. For happiness it would have been better if it had been the other way round.
And I think my dad learned something from that. He wears rosy tinted glasses for my mother, when he talks about her he says 'I struck gold when I met your mother' & 'marrying her was like winning the lottery' As well as wearing rosy tinted glasses for your partner choose someone who has rosy tinted glasses for you.
4 Be appreciative
Thank them & be grateful for their presence in their life and for all that being with them gives you and teaches you. My dad said 'if you find love you are incredibly privileged' –mum and dad never took for granted what they had. Just the other night my dad was saying 'you have been really good to me' & 'I got the long end of the stick' Even now they are still very appreciative of each other.
5 Be thoughtful – Give them presents they love
One time my mother was shopping one year and she saw a giant brown toy tiger which growled when you squeezed it. As my dad loves tigers she bought it for him. Later on the same shop had a giant white toy tiger so she bought it too, as the white tigers are his absolute favourite. She wrapped them up at Christmas time, the brown one for her the white one for him. Dad was thrilled with his present. The brown and white tiger have been lying on their bed ever since.
6 A great relationship doesn't just happen, it's something that is created
A great love story is something that is designed, it's something that you create each and every day – with your beliefs, your words, your actions, your body language and your gestures. Even now 53 years later, my dad gets this smile on his face when my mum comes into the room. He says hello Mary in this totally loving way that is different to the way he speaks to everyone else. It's beautiful to see...
A lot of this blog is common sense but then common sense isn't always common. It's the repeated everyday application of these tips that creates something extraordinary. Here's to you Mum and Dad for showing that an amazing relationship doesn't just happen – it is created every day. You are both amazing, I have been extraordinarily lucky to have you as my parents.