This past week, the Significant Other and I had the opportunity to spend time in the company of a couple who’s been married for 55 years.
In the course of our conversation, I was able to ask what most people want to know when they meet people who’ve been married for that amount of time: What has kept you together for so long?
The wife informed us that the answer was simple: “It was the little things.”
The little what?
Never having been much of a romantic, I found her answer to be too abstract for my taste but having just met the couple prevented me from insisting, “What exactly are the little things?”
And so in the days that followed, I pondered what keeps me in my actual relationship.
However, I discounted the logical reasons like commitment, affection, respect, admiration, and the compulsory good sense of humor.
Instead, I strived to focus on the “littler” things.
The problem was, I had no idea what those littler things were.
Intent on discovering what they were, I set out to observe and document any action that would contribute to this definition.
I was surprised to learn that in fact, there are many little things the Significant Other does that up until now, have not been considered pivotal to holding our relationship together.
Perhaps the reason for my lack of awareness has been succumbing to frustration and disappointment when my “larger” expectations haven’t been met.
For example, if I ask him to install a lamp that’s been sitting in its original box for the past six months and he doesn’t do it, I conclude that he’s refusing to do something that would make me happy.
However, arriving at this conclusion prevents me from seeing other “little” ways that demonstrate how committed he is or how much he cares for me.
In the days that transpired, I was able to “catch” the Significant Other doing the following things: (of course he was unaware that his behavior was being scrutinized)
~He woke up and realizing my arm was laying halfway across his part of the bed, instead of simply moving it so he could get out, he turned and twisted his body like a contortionist until he was able to ease himself out of bed.
(I should explain that he sleeps on the side of the bed that is close to the wall and the only way out is through my side.)
~He brought me candy from my favorite candy store without me requesting he do so.
~He went to a work party where they served an Indonesian layer cake called “spekkoek,” which he knows I love, and brought home a piece.
~He heard me tell Roxy that I hoped we’d see a bumble bee, and the next day he came home with a ring shaped like one.
~He made coffee and brought it to me upstairs.
~He unexpectedly gave me a neck and shoulder massage.
And so, ladies, after taking note of these little gestures, I’ve concluded they qualify as the “littler” things that add to a relationship’s sense of well being.
Furthermore, I now realize that at times I’ve been guilty of not giving them the attention or importance they merit.
Thankfully, this exercise has allowed me to understand that these actions are motivated by affection, commitment, and caring.
Even better, I’ve been able to identify them without having been married for 55 years.
Do you think the “little” things matter in a long term relationship?
If so, what little thing have you caught your partner, spouse or boyfriend doing for you lately?