Today my wife and I celebrate 29 years of being a couple. Not married, mind you. That’s only been the last 19 years (as at 11 July). But we first started going out in 17 April 1988.
To be honest, to this day I am still amazed that Nicole chose me. Twenty-three year old Greg was a bit of a mess. I was very much the geeky guy (I would be right at home in shows such as Big Bang Theory or the IT Crowd). Luckily Nicole had a geeky side too.
Anyway, I’ve scanned a few old photos to celebrate those days and am sharing them with you for a laugh. Then I’ll give you my opinions upon relationships.
First a photo of Nicole the dancer. This was one of her concerts. She did 21 years of dancing.
One thing that we both enjoyed doing (and still do) was visiting places. Whenever we had free time we would walk around the city looking at things. This is in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens.
And us overlooking Sydney Harbour.
We also enjoyed skiing.
And Nicole bought me romantic presents.
And us being geeky in Star Trek costumes with Nicole’s sister Kylie.
So yes, plenty of good memories.
These days I know a lot of people who struggle to maintain relationships (and I am not just talking about heterosexual ones). I also know a lot of people in unhappy relationships. I feel bad for them because Nicole and I are in a great relationship, despite all the pressures on us. So I try to reflect upon what it is that keeps our relationship good. Here is all I can come up with.
Nicole and I laugh an awful lot. We make jokes, tease each other, act silly and so on. Some of Rhiannon’s friends have actually commented that her parents (Nicole and I) are always joking around with each other (they say this in that disapproving teen manner that kids have these days). Yes – we are. And it is good. It means that we always enjoy being around each other.
Listen to each other
I think all human beings want someone to listen to them at times. Not necessarily do something about what we are saying – just listen and acknowledge our thoughts, concerns, fears, loves etc. We do that.
Respect each other’s opinions even if we disagree with them
This is a big one. I’ve watched couples with different opinions really tear each other apart. Nicole and I also have different opinions on a number of political, social and religious issues. Some I really disagree with. However we discuss these with mutual respect and agree to disagree. Having a different belief/opinion to someone else is perfectly acceptable. We do not need to force other people to accept our ideas.
Have quality time for each other
Work, chores, children – all these things tend to prevents us from getting quality time with each other. Actually, I hate the term “quality time” but am using it nevertheless. All time should be the best you can make it. Nevertheless it is always good to set aside time just to spend with each other. When Rhiannon was little we had “date night” once a fortnight. We would pack her off to her grandparents for a few hours and then go out to dinner. Now we watch television together when all the hubbub of the day has settled down, and we laugh, listen and chat.
Don’t feel the need to win
Arguments are inevitable. In the early days of our relationship I was the need-to-win-at-any-cost person. Arguments ceased being about the issue and became about winning. Very, very bad. This can really damage a relationship. Unfortunately it takes a lot of self-control to be able mid-argument realise that you are arguing simply in order to win. Maybe a time-out is required. Stop the argument and ask for a cooling down period. Maybe your partner won’t let you, but maybe they will. Arguments are about resolving an issue, not about winning.
Anyway, these are my five elements to a good relationship – at least as far as ours go.
Thanks for reading.