Couples today look for relationship advice from many different sources, from celebrities to, unfortunately, clichés. They often follow conventional wisdom like not going to bed angry or that love means never having to say you’re sorry.
In an age where the divorce rate hovers around 50%, the world is running out of couples who have been together for more than a few years. Instead of seeking wisdom from clichés or quitting under even the slightest pressure, couples today should first look to those who have been working on their relationships for several decades.
Rather than looking for inoffensive and fleeting advice about buying gifts or sending flowers, it is better to get solid, working support from people who have been there. Sometimes, collective wisdom from experienced couples is more valuable than advice from anyone else.
Dr. Karl Pillemer is one advocate of seeking the wisdom of those who are older and wiser than his years. He spent most of his career focusing on the setbacks that people face as they grow older. But then he realized was neglecting the wisdom that only those who have lived life can provide.
As a result, Dr. Pillemer has dedicated the last few years to writing “30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships and Marriage”.
In his book, Dr. Pillemer compiles all the advice that he gleaned from more than 700 people. These people have been married for an average of 43 years. What he learned after hundreds of interviews is that anyone can end up with someone they love. All you need to do is follow a few simple rules in love and life.
Play Games – The Good Kind
Many of the couples interviewed told Dr. Pillemer that watching a potential partner play board games is a great way to tell whether you would be a good fit. When you can see how a person reacts to winning, losing and high-stakes circumstances, you learn a lot about their personality and how you respond to it.
Knowing how someone responds to these circumstances shows you more than whether or not they are a gracious winner or a sorry loser. It often demonstrates larger patterns in the other person’s personality.
68-year-old Jessica Cruz told Dr. Pillemer, “Young people today search for people in bars. But if you watch somebody play a game like dominoes, you get a good sense of their personality that way.”
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is not just essential for personal growth – it is the key to a great relationship as well. Many of those interviewed for the book suggested that a change of scenery will demonstrate whether you are with a person who you can spend your life with.
Going on traditional dates to dinner and the movies is a pleasant way for two people to talk about mutual interests. But getting out and doing something that scares you both is a great way to learn more about the deeper aspects of each other’s personalities.
Grab A Snickers Bar
Many of us have become aware of the term ‘hangry’, which is that compelling and intense way that you feel when you are so hungry that it begins to affect your emotions. Being hangry is all too real for most of us. According to Dr. Pillemer’s interviews, your hunger may indeed drive fights with your partner.
Many couples reported that remembering that you may need a snack to help calm down is an important part of containing and resolving fights. Being aware of your hunger makes it much easier to say, ‘Sorry for the things that I said when I was hangry.’
Dr. Pillemer wrote that “many seniors talked about how their worst fights came when somebody was really hungry and let’s just say that I’ve used this in my own 35-year-old marriage and it really works.”
Talk About Your Feelings At The Right Time
Some people say that there is no right time to talk about your feelings; others say that the best time to talk is when you feel like talking.
Many of the people that Dr. Pillemer interviewed said that this was the wrong approach. Instead of talking about difficult issues anytime, you should discuss them at a time when both of you are at your best.
Talking about the hard stuff is never easy. But if you can find a time of day where you are both relaxed, that can make dealing with difficult topics a little bit easier.
The only thing that seems harder than finding love is making it last. The number of couples today that have seen a lifetime of love is dwindling. But if couples today learn from their elders triumphs and failures, they can find themselves on a path to life-long love.
Featured photo credit: Miltos Gikas via flickr.com