How to keep a relationship flourishing in later life
23rd January 2023
The companionship that a relationship brings, especially in later life, can’t be underestimated. Age is no barrier to love, quite the opposite in fact, it doesn’t matter if you are a stairlift user or a recent retiree. The love and support that partners can offer one another is a beautiful thing, and over time, that love can deepen into something more wonderful than ever existed in the early years of a relationship.
How can you keep a relationship flourishing in later life? Well, there are a number of key principles and important tips to put into action. Read on to discover how to take your relationship from strength to strength with every year that you and your partner grow old together.
Being able to communicate effectively with each other is an essential part of a healthy relationship. So, if you want your relationship to flourish in later life, it’s important that you are in touch with each other verbally, physically and emotionally.
Difficulties can present themselves when communication breaks down but couples who are honest with each other about their feelings and share what’s on their mind are more likely to grow in love instead of apart.
Psychology Today shares this insight about the importance of being honest with your partner: “Any issues you avoid, or truths you don’t want to acknowledge, will likely undermine your relationship. It’s better to face the truth squarely in the face right now and address it, rather than let it sabotage your relationship in the long run.”
Work on listening skills
Communication isn’t simply about saying what’s on your mind, being able to listen is just as important. If your partner is trying to communicate something to you but you aren’t listening to what they are really saying, it can become frustrating for that person you love.
So, work on those listening skills, make sure you are really paying attention and know when your loved one is trying to express something important. It’s never too late to improve skills like these, and there are lots of tips to help you do so.
Try maintaining attention and focus with eye contact where possible, and visualise what they are saying to you, avoid interrupting them, pay attention to nonverbal cues, and ask questions once they have paused.
Spend time together
In the early years of a relationship, couples often find themselves doing everything together, but as relationships advance, independent hobbies and activities become dominant. Spending time together is important, as this helps strengthen your identity as a couple, improves your connection, and allows you to enjoy each other’s company.
Having things in common helps couples feel good about each other and doing a hobby together can even improve your enjoyment of that favourite pastime. So, try and make time for shared activities and find new common interests. It could be going for walks, listening to a favourite musician, watching sports, or doing something like gardening. Whatever it is, enjoy it together and grow closer as a result.
Allow each other to have separate interests
While sharing common interests and doing things together helps couples flourish in later life, it’s just important to have separate interests too. As much as couples are a partnership, they are individuals too. People need a bit of alone time now and then so there is nothing wrong with couples enjoying a hobby separately.
Perhaps one person enjoys playing golf once a week. Perhaps the other person loves to read. Time spent pursuing your hobby alone can help you appreciate the time you do spend together all the more.
The important thing is not to do everything separately, never spending time together, but instead allowing each other to enjoy their interests, before coming together to relish in each other’s company.
Be affectionate towards each other
It is true that as relationships mature, passionate love develops into companionate love – which is characterised by companionship and emotional intimacy. However, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to not show affection towards each other.
As you grow older together, it’s important to continue to show each other affection, whether that be a kiss, holdings hands, a cuddle on the sofa, or simply telling your spouse, “I love you”. You might not feel that you need to express yourself this way after so many years, but some people can really appreciate these signs of affection, making them feel loved and wanted.
Build your future around shared goals and values
Relationships need to be built on strong foundations. After many years together, those relationships that have leaned towards more superficial attractions tend to fizzle out. If you want your relationship to flourish well into older age, continue to build your life together around shared goals and values.
What’s important to you both as the years progress? What do you want to achieve together? What are your most important values as people? Make answers to these questions the pillars that your relationship is built on. You will find that your foundations are stronger and ready to withstand whatever the future has in store.
Remember your spouse doesn’t exist to make you happy
It can be easy to fall into thinking that your spouse’s job is to make you happy. That the reason you are in a relationship with them is for your personal happiness and that if you aren’t happy, it’s their fault. This train of thought must be avoided.
Your spouse doesn’t exist to make you happy. If you want to flourish together well into your golden years, don’t think of the relationship as a self-serving endeavour. Love isn’t selfish, loving is willing for the good of the other person. Put this principle into practice and ask yourself, “am I willing for my beloved’s good?” “Do I want the best for them, and am I living my life for them?”
If you are both willing the best for each other, a loving, supportive, and happy relationship has the best chance of flourishing.
If you are looking for more tips, advice, or assistance to help your relationship flourish in later life, there is an abundance of fantastic resources available. This includes everything from insightful blog posts to specialist relationship coaches dedicated to producing successful relationships. Read on to discover a few helpful resources to consider:
- Kate Mansfield – Kate Mansfield is a dating and relationship coach in the UK, with a focus particularly on helping women keep loving relationships. You can book a call to speak with Kate, try one of her free masterclasses, or read one of her blog posts.
- Juliette Smith – Juliette Smith is a relationship coach and counsellor, who shares the knowledge and skills needed to strengthen relationships. You can get in touch with Juliette for coaching and counselling or perhaps read an article on her blog, such as this one about dealing with criticism.
- Sam Owen – Sam Owens is a relationship coach, psychologist, and published author. Using a science-based and goal-focused approach, Sam helps her clients improve their relationships. You can find out about her relationship coaching and read helpful blog posts on topics such as ‘How partners can increase feelings of love for each other’.
- Jane Parker – Jane Parker provides relationship coaching, helping her clients to “have successful, fulfilling and healthy relationships.” With Jane, you can book a complimentary consultation and take advantage of her knowledge via blog posts about important subjects like emotional patterns and automatic responses.
Tips for a successful relationship as an older couple
- Work on listening skills
- Spend time together
- Allow each other to have separate interests
- Be affectionate towards each other
- Build your future around shared goals and values
- Remember your spouse doesn’t exist to make you happy
As people age, relationships become more important than ever. Hopefully, this article has been useful and provided a few tips and key principles to consider as you take your relationship into the future.
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