Seniors on the Coast article (Dec 2014)
I read recently about a couple in their seventies, married for 50 years, and still passionately in love. The wife said something that was so wise and true, she said: “We know our time is limited now. If it is not fun, loving, joyful or interesting, we just don’t give it our energy. Life’s too short to hold grudges and too interesting to ruminate the past. We prefer our time together to be the best choice we can make for our remaining happiness, health and hearts”.
If only we all learn to live this wisdom earlier in our relationships! Perhaps we need to down the gossip mags that herald the latest celebrity couple split and instead celebrate and affirm Loves successful role models. We need to read good news stories of relationship longevity and exalt the everyday heroes quietly living and loving “til death do us part”.
We are never too old for love and in fact, their is much evidence to suggest, that like a fine wine, love can get better with age. Love is beautiful at any age, but most particularly, as couples enter their mature years, love can become a full time art.
Whether you have been loving the same partner throughout your lifetime, or finding new love later, what can make love in the senior years so great is the wisdom, self-knowledge and self-assurance that has been acquired over a lifetime. Plenty of relationship mistakes have already been made, and hopefully lessons learned. And with children grown up and independent, and many life ambitions already mastered, seniors have the time to give, themselves AND their relationships more attention.
This good news is not just the case for romantic love, but all relationships. In fact, there are studies from the happiness and positive psychology fields that have shown our happiness levels follow a reverse bell curve, peaking in childhood and plummeting from the teens onwards, returning only to the same levels of high happiness at the senior years.
Many seniors are reporting an increased quality of relationships across the board as they devote time not only to their beloved but also to their own wellbeing as well as their individual or shared passions, including cultivating friendships, interest groups, the joys of grandparenting, and volunteering endeavours.
However, it is in the realm of romantic love that I have a special passion. As a celebrant and relationship coach, I am professionally (& personally) always curious whenever I see a long term loving couple and motivated to ask about their relationship success and secrets.
Here is some of what I have gleaned so far about successful loving:
1. Love is a conscious choice
Successful lovers know that it is after the honeymoon when the real loving happens. As much as the falling in love phase is heady and wonderful, successful lovers choose the real loving any day. As they say, any fool can fall in love; it is staying in love that is the real skill. Real loving is a conscious decision – a daily choice – to love and practice individual and couple habits and rituals that cultivate passion, appreciation, intimacy and connection. This can be cultivated by asking yourself each day “what can I do today to express my love to my beloved?”
2. Whilst love begins with chemistry (& that is always important) its lasts with compatibility
Compatibility is not about being same/same or opposites attracting, and it is not about another ‘completing’ you – successful lovers bring their wholeness to a relationship – rather, compatibility is more about same ‘values’ and an energetic alignment or ‘balancing’. Successful lovers are like a beautiful dancing pair in fluid movement, knowing when to lead and follow, shifting and changing in sync to the changes in the music (& life).
3. Love is about the message received. It’s all in the communication.
Communication is a learned skill. Successful couples learn each other’s communications style and love language; they are clear about their needs and wants and share them; they listen twice as much as they speak; they manage conflict carefully and they never assume. They learn and let go. They always appreciate and speak their gratitude and love.
4. Love is a commitment.
Successful lovers are committed to the success of the relationship. Sometimes, above and beyond the success of the individual, they will ask, ‘what is best here for our relationship?” Knowing that within the container of the relationship is where each other will be able to access the means for individual growth, evolvement and continued betterment, is the true power of togetherness. Successful couples are committed to a shared vision for their relationship.
5. Love is a co-creative endeavour.
Healthy successful love is about two individuals finding perfect self-expression and freedom through loving, encouraging, supporting each other to grow into the best person they can be, and celebrating that ongoing journey. These lovers are forever curious, learning, growing and creating anew, and therefore, forever falling in love with the unfolding creation of the other.
Get inspired to make your relationship a full-time passion and endeavour into your senior years.
Much love. Sarah
Sarah Tolmie is a life & love coach, therapist and consultant. Her practice focuses on helping people navigate, grow and heal through all their life & love events, changes and challenges – including love, marriage & family relationships; success, health & wellness; and grief & loss, including coping with illness, dying and death. Sarah is also a Life & Love Celebrant, and Pastoral Care Practitioner, creating profound and meaningful ceremonies for all life & love events. In her practice Sarah’s focus is on maintaining a heart-based, love-led, laughter-filled and meaning-making life. Sarah has an academic background in Social Anthropology and a Masters in Communication. Sarah is also a Laughter Yoga Practitioner. You can visit her website new.sarahtolmie.com.au and receive her Daily Love updates on her Facebook page at Sarah Tolmie – Life & Lvoe