April 21, 2016

20 Truths about Love from a Couple Celebrating 30 Years of Marriage.

Garry Knight/Flickr

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To celebrate my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary, I chose to interview them about love.

Their story has always been one-of-a-kind for me. My mom is nine years older than my dad, and funnily enough, she used to be his teacher in school.

He fell in love with her when he was a kid and followed her around until he reached his twenties. It was then that he asked her out—she shut him down more than five times. My father never gave up though. He kept trying to win her heart and my mother’s eventual “yes,” proved to me what true love is all about.

I’ve often wondered about the secrets that tied them together as a successful couple all these years.

I wanted to compare what love means for the old and new generation, because I believe the perception of love has widely changed over the past few decades, forever changing the course of partnerships. Never before have people oscillated between the notion of monogamy and polyamory. And never before have we given up so easily on people we love as we do these days.

Social media and technology have helped us drift further apart at times. And with the rise of online platforms, cheating has seemingly become easier and more acceptable. Our list of what we want in a partner no longer matches any one person—unless it’s a character in a Hollywood movie.

This all has me wondering about the old traditions in certain cultures and how parents used to choose their child’s spouse. These couples often remained happily married for decades, even though they didn’t fall in love the “normal” way or choose each other.

It made me wonder if there’s more to “falling in love” when it comes to building successful relationships.

Bit by bit we are losing the true essence of authentic relationships—we are losing what joined my parents and so many other couples in the world. However, asking experienced couples about what made their relationship tick might motivate us to pursue what’s beyond mere feelings.

Below are 20 questions to help inspire us to build auspicious relationships:

1. How did you know he/she was the one?

M: The first time I saw him I felt like he filled what’s missing in my life. He completed who I am and I felt an incomparable sense of safety with him.

D: When I first met her, I felt a bond that highly connected me with her. I instantly knew she was the one I wanted to spend my life with.

2. What’s his/her best quality?

M: The way he loves me.

D: Her kindness.

3. How is he/she the perfect husband/wife?

M: Our first day together, he asked me how he can be the perfect man for me. I told him, he worked on it and surprisingly, he is still that man up to this day.

D: Her patience.

4. What has changed over the past 30 years?

M: Aside from being lovers, we have grown to be more friends. With time, this friendship has become stronger and well-built.

D: I loved her a little, now I love her a little more. {laughs}

5. What has kept you together all these years?

M: Our love is strong, our trust for each other is blind and there was no cheating whatsoever. Also, communication and understanding are two major components that have helped us to overcome difficulties.

D: Compromising is what kept us together.

6. What is the best memory in your marriage?

M: Our current 30-year anniversary is the best memory because somehow, it reminded me of our first day together. I feel like my love for him hasn’t changed one bit.

D: When I begged her to marry me. It is quite important for me because when we fight, I remember that I chose her. When I remember this, I instantly make things right.

7. What’s the secret to a successful relationship?

M: Trust and sacrifice. You must trust each other and sacrifice for each other.

D: They say marriage is a failed institution, but one can always make it work through compromise. We all have our separate lives and different characters, but with sacrifice all can work.

8. Define love in one word.

M: Paradise.

D: Commitment.

9. What do you do when you fight?

M: I hold space. I try to remain patient for a couple of days, then I talk to him about what happened when we’re both calmer.

D: I hold space. I wait until the waters are calm and then speak. If I’m wrong, I admit it.

10. How do you show your commitment?

M: By sharing with him what he does and what he likes. I share his dreams and goals and stand next to him whenever he needs me.

D: By my actions.

11. What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with in your marriage?

M: Financial difficulties. Thankfully we overcame it without any damage to the relationship.

D: When we started building a family, but thankfully we made it.

12. How do you keep the romance alive?

M: We always tell each other beautiful words as if we’re dating all over again. Also, he has been writing poetry for me for the past 30 years, which I believe is pretty romantic.

D: Love and understanding keeps it alive. We always create new things, new conversations to keep it alive.

13. What’s the greatest thing he/she has done to you?

M: Once I fell really sick and he took care of me to a great extent. He washed and kissed my feet, then cooked for me. I remember he cried and told me, “I can’t live without you if something happens to you.”

D: That she married me.

14. How do you break the routine?

M: We always try new stuff and oddly, sometimes I feel like there isn’t any routine. We cook together new meals, we read poetry together and, most importantly, we always talk about future plans so we don’t feel stuck in the present moment.

D: Marriage is like an endless room. The more doors you open, the more rooms will show up. We simply break it by willing more doors to open.

15. What’s the biggest mistake you made in your marriage?

M: There were times when he gave me more than I gave him. I felt that he took care of me more and loved me more. With time I have realized that there should be balance in the relationship and now I always give back to him what I take from him. We grew to become happier now that we equally love each other and I take care of him as much as he takes care of me.

D: I regret not meeting her earlier and marrying her earlier. {laughs}

16. On a scale from 1 to 5, what is more important: loyalty, forgiveness, communication, compromise, respect?

M: Respect comes first because if there isn’t respect, all of what follows will make no sense. Second comes loyalty. Then compromise, communication, forgiveness.

D: For me, they’re all the same. However, I would say respect, loyalty, compromise, communication, forgiveness.

17. How did he/she contribute to the building of yourself and life?

M: There were missing things in my life and like any other human being I had made mistakes. With his patience and perception, he helped me build a better me. For instance, anger was one of my major problems—I used to get angry swiftly. With his attitude and the way he behaved with me, he has helped me build a calmer character.

D: It is thanks to her existence that I am a better man today. She compromised a lot and did a lot and this is why I am what I am.

18. What can cause a relationship to fail?

M: For me, cheating can cause a relationship to fail. Even if things get back to normal after cheating, I believe the incident will be hard to forget. It messes with one’s dignity and respect. The one who truly loves, won’t ever cheat. I believe that love is like a plant, you must always take care of it, love it and water it so it can grow. If you don’t, it will eventually die.

D: For me, extravagant love can cause a relationship to fail. If one is too jealous, possessive and doubtful, it will harm the marriage. However, if trust is there, nothing can harm it.

19. What’s your advice for people in love?

M: Your love should never be based on fantasies. You must balance between logic and love. In other words, put your mind in your heart.

D: Count to 10 before getting married because love is something and marriage is something else. Marriage is a big step that needs nurturing and attention.

20. If you could go back in time, would you do it all over again?

M: If with him, yes.

D: If with her, yes.

I chose to interview each parent individually so I could see how differently they perceive relationships. Yet, I also noticed some common answers that proved that a successful relationship is one where two people look in the same direction. I believe this is the greatest lesson I learned.

Their answers, and example, also taught me that patience, communication and respect are what allow a relationship to truly flourish. 

As my mom said, love is a plant that needs to be constantly watered to keep it alive. And as my dad proved to me, it’s important to never give up on love, no matter what.

I hope to one day find a love that is strong enough to make me regret not meeting my partner sooner.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Garry Knight/Flickr

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