Friday, 10 April 2009


I have been celebrating for the past few days. I have a vast bouquet of flowers overflowing the vase in the living room, a fridge full of wine and a belly full of bubbly and good food.

This week has been the anniversay of my wedding, a whole 20 years ago. (Though we were together for five years before that.) It has been a lengthy journey to get to this point, filled with a blend of scenic good times, broodingly bad times and vast stretches of mundane times. There have been times that we have fought, times it looked like we were going to crash and burn, and times we took each other for granted and wandered off to see if there was something or someone better over the horizon. Yet, somehow, we have managed to stay not just married, but happily so. We still enjoy each other's company. We still find each other attractive. What it all boils down to is that despite how difficult and annoying we can both be, we would rather be together than apart. So we are.

If that's not worth raising a glass to I don't know what is.

So, in honour of my double decades of wedded bliss I shall give you my 20 top tips for a long-lasting relationship:
  1. Spend lots of time apart. This will ensure you always have new and interesting things to tell each other and will enhance your enjoyment of the time you do spend together.
  2. Never assume you know someone completely. You don't. You have secrets and so do they.
  3. Don't expect things to remain as they are forever. No relationship exists in stasis. It will develop and change over time. Those who adapt will survive.
  4. While relationships change people do not. Accept the person you love for who they are. You will never change them into someone they are not, so don't waste their time, and yours, by trying.
  5. Encourage your partner in their endeavours, even if you think they're destined for failure. If you don't they will either resent you for standing in the way of their dreams or go ahead and do it anyway. Then, if they make a go of it, they will think you are a faithless git who never believed in them and if they fall on their arse they will accuse you of never wanting them to succeed in the first place.
  6. Talk. Your loved one is not a mind reader.
  7. Listen.
  8. Indulge in playfulness. A bit of silliness goes a long way, whether it be an impromptu water fight over the washing up or a join-the-dots puzzle composed of chocolate buttons on your belly.
  9. Never sulk.
  10. Do not go to bed on an argument. Always stay up and fight. Get it sorted.
  11. Sex is important. But it isn't everything. There will be times when you are not in synch. This does not necessarily spell The End, especially if you remember point 7, above.
  12. Do not be fooled into thinking that the grass looks greener outside your marriage. As has been pointed out before, affairs exist in a bubble of unreality. Introduce mortgage payments, childcare, domestic chores and the mundanity of everyday life and suddenly the grass looks that little bit more uniform. Lovers are like zoo animals. Exotic and fun to vist but you wouldn't want to live with one.
  13. Balance brutal honesty with kind lies.
  14. Don't bear grudges. You either forgive someone or you don't and you most certainly shouldn't claim forgiveness and then re-open old wounds every time you argue.
  15. Do not air your grievances in public and most certainly not online. Far better to see point 7, above.
  16. Make the same effort as you would with someone you were meeting for the first time. Presentation never loses its importance.
  17. Apologise but remember that sorry doesn't always make it all better. An apology is not a Get Out of Jail Free card for bad behaviour.
  18. Beware complacency. Just because things seem to be ticking over nicely now doesn't mean they always will. Anything will die if you neglect it for long enough.
  19. Voice your appreciation. If they have cooked you dinner, made a cup of tea, mended the hoover, or just look very nice in those trousers, it is good to let them know you noticed.
  20. Never stop seeing your loved one. It is easy for a long term partner to start blending in with the wallpaper. What surrounds you every day blurs into the background over time and you stop really seeing it at all. Who you fell in love with in the first place is usually still there (see point 4, above - people don't really change, perceptions do) you just have to look past the accumulated assumptions of the years. If you don't lose sight of each other you'll find it harder to drift out of reach.


L said...

wow, congratulations! stories about awesome marriages make me so happy. great advice, too.

Baby said...

Best wishes to you on your anniversary!!! Loved your Top 20 - makes great sense... Cheers!!!!!

Tom Allen said...

7. Listen.

This is one of the hardest items on the list, especially during those bad times, or even those mundane times.

Very nice - thanks for sharing this. May you have 20 more, even better than the first.

Suzanne Portnoy said...

Congratulations - quite an achievement. I'm lucky if I can manage 20 hours. Mind you, I feel that way about most human beings.

Carnalis said...

Congratulations darling, and i hope the merriment continues.

Forgive me for not reading your undoubted wisdom 1-20 .. in the debris of failure i am not quite up to what-we-should-have-done

hoodie said...


Ms Robinson said...

Oh that is the best thing to read. Congratulations Luka. It's so good to read something so heartfelt and full of commonsense as well. Well done. x

Melissaria said...

Fabulous stuff, and congratulations!

SleepingMan said...

Love that Top20. Especially #1.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on hitting that milestone. And those 20 pearls of wisdom would have be the best list of tips I've ever seen for nurturing a long term relationship. Many thanks.

Lynsey said...

Congratulations, my favorite blogger!

Jackie Adshead said...

Congratulations! Happy Anniversary to you and Mr Luka.

And your advice, as ever, is full of pearls of wisdom. Learnt by experience!

Helga Hansen said...

Congratulations again on your anniversary, Luka. The list undoubtedly has sensible advise, but a marriage always has two people in it, and only *both* those participants can make a marriage work. Sadly, this is not my experience. I shall remember your list should I ever have the chance to give 20 years a go in the future!

Walker said...

Congratulations on your 20th.

Communication and understanding go a long way in a relationship.

Desmo said...

Felicitations ma chere, I too raise my glass of Champagne. Mme Desmo and I have been going on 22 years, having met 30 years ago. I would generally second your 20 "rules" but add this one, revel in the ordinary.


Hillary said...

Congrats and Thanks for the advice. They are really good.

Boxer said...


you are awesome.

congrats. for so many reasons,

Heff said...

Congratulations. Words to live by, or at least to make a relationship survive.

RK said...

Well said! Especially #19.

Congratulations on your anniversary.

Luka said...

Thank you all for the kind wishes and congratulatory messages. I give you all a warm embrace and a fond tweak.

Amy said...

What a lovely post, and congratulations! We are back among the living and you are the first place I went. So, so happy you are still around. xoxoamy

Luka said...

Thank you, Amy. And how nice to have you back again! You were missed.