During a recent trip, I had the fortune of meeting an elderly couple who’ve been blissfully together for 61 years.
Their enduring relationship, filled with warmth and mutual respect, was both inspiring and eye-opening.
As we chatted, they shared insights into what has kept their love so strong for decades. It was a stark contrast to the relationships I’ve seen dissolve around me, where these practices were often missing.
In this article, I’ll share the 7 distinct habits that couples destined to be together forever practice, as learned from those who’ve truly stood the test of time.
1) Practice forgiveness
This may not sound very sexy, but forgiveness plays a crucial role in the longevity of any relationship. Because let’s admit it, your partner will surely disappoint you sooner or later — we’re all human after all.
So it’s not a question of never making mistakes, it’s a question of both of you learning to let go of those mistakes and grudges.
When I met this elderly couple, they seemed incredibly in love, but they also told me they’ve been through so many difficult times.
They have both cried, inadvertently hurt each other, and made decisions the other didn’t agree with.
But they continued to hold to their vision of a future together, and they put being happy together above resentment or needing to be right.
So they did something simple, yet surprisingly challenging: they forgave each other, over and over again.
This takes an understanding of what’s not worth getting upset over in the first place, and also being able to put yourself in the shoes of the other person with real compassion.
And, it’s giving your partner the space to be human, and loving them for that.
2) Cultivate trust
Trust is the foundation upon which lasting relationships are built, and its importance was vividly illustrated by the elderly couple I met.
For them, trust meant more than just believing the other would be faithful; it encompassed a deep sense of reliability and confidence in each other’s commitment and love.
This was not built overnight, of course. They described it as a garden that needs regular tending – a process of small actions and reassurances that, over time, create a robust and resilient bond.
It involved being transparent with each other even when it hurt, keeping promises even when it wasn’t convenient, and showing reliability in both small and significant matters.
This means being there when you say you will be, and doing what you say you will do. It’s about showing up, not just in the easy times, but especially when things get tough.
This couple showed trust through their unwavering support for each other in life’s uncertainties, and by being each other’s confidant in both joy and sorrow.
3) Show appreciation regularly
Another thing the elderly couple shared was that regularly expressing gratitude for each other was not just a habit, but a ritual that kept their bond strong and vibrant.
Appreciation, as they practiced it, went beyond simple thank-yous. It was about acknowledging the small, everyday actions that often go unnoticed.
The husband mentioned how he still thanks his wife for her excellent cooking, a task she has lovingly undertaken for years.
Similarly, the wife spoke of her gratitude for his unwavering support in her endeavors, no matter how big or small.
In real terms, showing appreciation means actively looking for things to be grateful for in your partner. It’s about recognizing their efforts, their strengths, and the unique qualities they bring to your relationship.
This could be as simple as thanking them for taking out the trash, complimenting their listening skills, or acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the family.
Just imagine how loving a relationship becomes when both partners appreciate each other in this way — plus, a great bonus is it’ll encourage them to keep doing the things you love.
4) Communicate openly and honestly
“Never assume your partner is a mind reader,” chuckled the husband from the couple I met. He shared how early in their marriage when he would sulk about his wife not preparing his favorite dish for special occasions.
One day he realized, he was skipping a key step: asking her to please make the dish! Once he did, it became a regular part of their celebrations together.
As silly as this example may sound, it underlines the essence of open and honest communication.
For a relationship to last, you always have to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires clearly and respectfully.
The couple believed that many relationship problems stem from misunderstandings that could easily be avoided with straightforward dialogue.
In practice, this means discussing your expectations, fears, and even the little things that bother you — but with respect and love.
It’s about having those heart-to-heart conversations where vulnerability is not just allowed, but encouraged. It’s about saying, “I feel upset when you leave your socks on the floor. Do you think you could put them away?” instead of harboring silent resentment — and a smelly bedroom.
5) Prioritize their relationship
Remember the early days of a relationship, where every moment together felt like a precious gift? The elderly couple I met, with their 61 years of togetherness, reminded me that this initial infatuation, while beautiful, is only the first chapter.
As relationships mature, they warned, it’s easy for your partner to become a part of the scenery of daily life, something beautiful yet overlooked, like a familiar painting on the wall.
They shared their own experience, a period when they felt they were drifting into being mere cohabitants rather than life partners.
It was a wake-up call that led them to intentionally refocus on their relationship. They likened it to nurturing a plant – it doesn’t stop needing attention once it blooms.
In practical terms, this means actively making time for each other and keeping the romance alive.
What they did in particular was set aside a specific evening each week for a date night, no matter how busy life got. It could be as simple as cooking a meal together or as elaborate as a night out.
They also made sure to check in with each other daily, sharing thoughts and feelings, ensuring they remained connected beyond the routine of life.
6) Plan for the future together
Growth and change are inevitable in life, and the way a couple navigates these shifts can significantly impact their relationship’s longevity. The wise couple I met, with their decades of shared experience, illustrated how evolving together, rather than apart, requires deliberate effort and understanding.
They emphasized that while it’s normal for partners to have individual aspirations, a mutual commitment to grow together is key.
For instance, there was a time when the wife was offered a career opportunity abroad. This posed a challenge, as it meant long periods apart. Similarly, the husband once took up a hobby that required him to be out late most evenings, reducing their time together. Despite these individual pursuits, they maintained a shared vision of their life together.
Planning for the future together means respecting and supporting each other’s individual goals, while also ensuring these aspirations don’t overshadow the relationship. It’s about finding a balance where both partners feel their needs and dreams are valued.
This couple managed it by regular check-ins, where they discussed how their individual pursuits were affecting their relationship and made adjustments as needed.
The key here lies in sharing core values and a common vision for the future. When you both value each other’s happiness and fulfillment, it becomes easier to support and stand by each other, even when your paths temporarily diverge. This approach fosters a partnership where both individuals can grow without growing apart.
7) Keep the intimacy alive
There’s a familiar scene in many comedies where one character laments the frequency of intimacy in their long-term relationship, only to be met with disbelief by their friends.
As the elderly couple I met pointed out, it’s unrealistic to expect the same hormonal fervor that marks the beginning of a relationship to last indefinitely.
In fact, it’s a biological necessity for this intensity to subside — otherwise it would literally kill you. But that doesn’t mean intimacy should fade away entirely.
This couple emphasized the importance of maintaining physical closeness as a distinguishing feature of a romantic partnership.
They found simple, yet meaningful ways to stay connected, like holding hands while talking or gently touching while reading together in bed. These small gestures kept the flame of intimacy alive, even when life’s pace slowed their physical activities.
Moreover, they shared that fostering quality time outside the bedroom often led to a more intimate connection within it.
This can be anything from shared hobbies to regular date nights or simply engaging in deep, meaningful conversations. It’s about creating an emotional closeness that naturally extends into physical intimacy.
Nurturing love through the years
In the tapestry of a lasting relationship, each thread – forgiveness, trust, appreciation, communication, prioritization, shared growth, and intimacy – weaves a pattern of enduring love.
The wisdom shared by the couple who have journeyed together for over six decades reminds us that love is not just a feeling, but a series of actions and choices.
By embracing these habits, we can cultivate relationships that not only survive the test of time but flourish within it, turning every year into a milestone of shared joy and deepening connection.