As far as I’m concerned, there are few things as adorable as sweet old couples. Think about it: how many times have you cracked a smile at a pair of cute old-timers holding hands in the street? If you’re anything like me, seeing love thrive for so long and endure the test of time is not only heart-warming, it’s inspirational. It makes me want to work that much harder on my own relationship so that one day my other half and I can one day too rock matching canes! Sweet old couples remind us that if you try hard enough, anything is possible—even epic love stories spanning generations. With that said, here are 27 lessons about love that we can learn from possibly the greatest relationship gurus out there!
1. Don’t forget the small touches
While grand, sweeping gestures are lovely every once in a while, it’s the little, frequent ones that will make your partner feel loved on a daily basis. A kiss hello or goodbye, a cup of tea while your other half is working to show them you care, a quick shoulder rub in front of the television, a single rose if you’re feeling particularly romantic, or simply offering to take the rubbish out for once. You may find these things insignificant, but the small things really do nurture relationships in time.
2. “Love is not a matter of counting the years, But making the years count.” (Michelle Amand)
3. Couples who laugh together stay together!
Sharing a giggle with the one you love has to be one of the most invigorating and bond-strengthening things ever, am I right? If you can’t quite get the laughs going on your own, why not pop a funny film on the television or watch a silly video on YouTube together? You’ll not only feel happier, but also closer to your partner.
4. Get physical
No, I don’t mean that (although that’s fantastic, too!)—but physical contact with your lover is crucial to keeping that feeling of intimacy going over the years. It doesn’t have to be massively awkward public displays of affection (no-one wants to be that couple, surely?) but a kiss on the forehead, a comforting stroke on the back of the neck, a massage or even holding hands will help you feel more connected to your partner. Give it a try!
5. Listen to each other
This may seem like Relationship 101, but it’s incredibly easy to fall off the bandwagon, even with the basics! Being available to listen to your partner when she or he is having a bad day, being there to share their personal victories or hearing them out in an argument instead of ignoring them and getting your say no matter what are simple steps you can take to help your couple thrive over time. Having said that…
6. “You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” (Sam Keen)
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
No matter how close you are with your other half, most of the time, they won’t be able to magically sense when you’re upset unless you get your feelings out in the open. Don’t be afraid to let it all out and communicate with your partner: keeping your thoughts bottled up is a surefire way to build up resentment over the years, while sharing them will lead to a closer relationship.
8. Celebrate the good times together…
While this doesn’t have to involve jumping on beds together (although, why the heck not?!), there’s something to be said for sharing happy moments with your sweetheart! Bonding over something that brings you joy is exhilarating and will make you feel closer than ever. With that said…
9. …And support each other through the bad
10. “Love is to love someone for who they are, who they were, and who they will be.” (Chris Moore)
11. Remember where you started
If you’re feeling a bit blah about your relationship (don’t beat yourself up, it happens!), cast your mind back to where it all began for you two! Think of happy moments and experiences you’ve shared, and remember why you fell in love in the first place. In fact, why not take this trip down memory lane with your other half? If you have photos (and a glass of wine), even better!
12. Love isn’t always easy (but it’s oh-so worth it)
These sweet old couples have been through thick and thin together; they’ve weathered their share of arguments. It can’t always have been easy, but then, neither life nor love are! Sticking together even through the rough patches is a test of character and of the strength of your love: if you can make it through the storm, there’s nothing that’ll get in your way!
13. Celebrate your love
You might not be into Valentine’s Day—no matter! Find little, cute ways to celebrate your relationship. It can be a card on that most romantic of days, it can be breakfast in bed in memory of the day you first met, or a glass of champagne together in the spot you shared your first kiss. It all comes down to showing each other how much you value your love!
14. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.” (James Thurber)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years and that these cute oldies will agree with, is the importance of dating. Even if you’ve been together for years and years, keeping a date night ritual once a week or twice a month is a lovely way to keep the romance going in your relationship! Try picking a different restaurant every month or so, go for long walks together or simply spending some quality time together, far from the madding crowd.
16. Remember that love is a long-lasting friendship
Sure, your other half is your love interest, but they’re also (or should be!) one of your closest friends. Be silly together! Be open with each other and support each other like friends would. Have fun together. Being friends as well as lovers will add another layer to your relationship. Nurture that—it’s invaluable.
17. Try something new together
18. “Love is not who you can see yourself with. It is who you can’t see yourself without.” (Anonymous)
19. Sorry goes a long way
Sometimes, it feels like the hardest thing to say, but man, can that simple word work wonders! Try just saying “I’m sorry” next time you’re in a fight, even if you’re not necessarily in the wrong. What’s more important—being right or moving on from the problem?
20. Start a tradition
Whether it’s a picnic every Sunday afternoon, pancakes at the diner every Saturday or a trip to the theatre every third Wednesday of the month, start a fun tradition together! Don’t underestimate the value of having something to look forward to on a regular basis with your loved one: not only will it give you an excuse to spend time together (as if you needed it!), it’ll also become “your thing” and you’ll be one of those couples. (You know you want to.)
21. Love yourself, too
While showering your other half with love and affection is super important, don’t forget to show yourself some TLC, too! By loving yourself, you become able to love others more. It’s magic!
22. “For love is immortality.” (Emily Dickinson)
23. Surprise each other!
While having date nights and traditions is great (obviously, given that I just told you so!), there’s much to be said for spontaneity and surprising your partner every once in a while to bring a little spark back into the relationship! Unless your other half absolutely hates surprises, don’t hold back. Do something out of the ordinary every once in a while: swing by your sweetheart’s office at lunch for an impromptu bite together, have a bunch of roses delivered on a whim (a girl can only dream)… These surprises don’t necessarily have to be huge; even the smallest change to a routine can be delightful!
24. Fight right
There will be times when it’ll be tempting to lash out at your partner, using unkind words to hurt. Although satisfying in the heat of the moment, fighting unfairly—with harsh words and accusations—doesn’t help the situation. When you hit a snag in your relationship, try to keep your calm; listen to what your other half has to say and tell them how you feel, too. Communicate. Compromise. Try as best you can to not tear each other apart, because the more you do, the harder it’ll be to come back from.
25. Go on adventures together!
Much like trying something new together or starting a tradition will help cement your relationship and give it staying power, leaving your respective comfort zones and going on adventures together will keep that passion going! (While you’re at it, totally do what this couple’s doing and share a bike. Or a tandem! Or any other equally cute means of transportation!)
26. Choose kindness
Choose to forgive rather than begrudge. Choose to lend a helping hand rather than be cold out of anger. Be a shoulder to cry on, rather than the accusatory finger. Choose to embrace, rather than shun. Relationships take work, and forgiveness, and compromise. Choose kindness.
27. Remember: it gets better with age!