On Relationships

Sue Bookstore


I visited some long-time friends last month. We’ve known each other for 50 years. We all ended up in education, and we’re all married with adult kids. There are more ways that we’re different than alike, though, and I doubt we would have become friends had we met each other in our 30s, for instance, instead of in kindergarten. I am delightfully awed by how our friendship has grown.

On this trip, one friend said with some hesitation that she and her spouse sleep in separate beds. Me too! I would love to sleep with my husband, and I miss him when I lay down at night. But, honey, I sleep so much better sleeping alone. We go to bed and wake at different times. He snores. I’m not having it.

Whatever you do in your marriage, if it works for you, it’s okay.

I don’t get quite enough physical contact with my husband. I think sleeping together, breathing each other in, all night, snuggling before sleep and when waking, is part of what makes humans happy. It strengthens relationships. Instead, my husband and I cuddle on the couch. If he’s laying in bed reading in the afternoon, I might grab a book to lay next to him. We make sure nookie is a regular thing.

Here’s another way to strengthen a relationship. Do something new together. “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples” explains the science behind how doing something novel stimulates the same hormones and brain activity as falling in love.

When I get together with friends, most often we go for a hike or a walk. Then we talk – yak yak yak – the whole time. This can lead to sharing and intimacy. Might our bonds get stronger still if we also did something new together?

The most important part of a relationship is respect. Relationship researcher John Gottman studies couples and found we need a ratio of 5 nice, affirming interactions to every one negative interaction. This was found in the context of marriage, but I will bet it holds true for all our relationships: parent/child, friends, co-workers.

Be physically close. Do something new. Give and receive respect. Repeat for 50 years.