Sustaining a successful relationship

For many seniors, developing or maintaining a successful relationship with a partner can be a real challenge. Many that have been married for years find that the passion and interest has gone out of the relationship. Personally, we saw this at home with our own parents.

So what is the real secret to sustaining a relationship into our senior years? As the saying goes, “It’s different strokes for different folks.” Perhaps a bit of a personal story about our relationship can instill some ideas for others.


Adele and I met on a blind date in October 1985. Coincidentally, we were both seeing the same psychologist at the time in order to deal with some aspects of previous failed marriages and relationships. It was probably unethical, but the psychologist suggested that we could both learn from each other as we had similar experiences.

When I first called Adele, I thought this probably won’t go beyond the phone call, as Adele was a medical doctor and I, a chiropractor. These are two professions that have had a great deal of animosity towards each other. So, when I phoned and said, “You do realise I’m a chiropractor”, I expected her to hang up the phone. Instead I heard, “I refer people to chiropractors all the time and I have been to a chiropractor myself.” I thought at that moment, “She can’t be all that bad.”

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We were not only at the opposite ends of the health spectrum, but Adele was from small town (that’s an exaggeration), Doodlakine, WA , while I was from big city, Toronto, Canada. Our family backgrounds were totally different. Our reactions and emotions were totally different. I tended to be more volatile in those days, while Adele was calmer and more measured in her reactions.

After three and a half years we got married and 1989 had to be the most stressful year that could easily have destroyed our relationship due to a number of family issues. It was really because of our relationship and the intensity of our feelings for one another that we withstood those trying times. Since then, our relationship has continued to grow, so much so, that we couldn’t imagine life without one another. From what started as two individuals very much viewing life from different perspectives, a very symbiotic relationship developed. Some might think that is unhealthy, but for us it is the greatest feeling in the world.

So how did we make it? What you need first and foremost is the glue that holds a relationship together, which is chemistry/passion – whatever you want to call it. Without that, a relationship is merely going through the motions.

Another very important factor is your values. The more you and your partner can share values the more likely that your relationships will succeed. Adele and I both love to travel and be active in our travels. At home we love taking part in similar activities so we can share in those times together. We enjoy interacting with those who are success and growth orientated. The easiest way to share in each other’s values is to find how to link one partner’s values to what is important to the other partner. That means at times a couple needs to negotiate in order to serve each other.

One final point is that we have a great deal of respect for one another. Giving respect and love means that you never have to feel, “What am I getting out of this?” It’s a shared contribution that is one of the solid pillars of the relationship.

Image courtesy of Adrian Tan Photography