(In photo: Dr. Ernest Peets and his wife Julie Peets)
by Vejay Steede
The way we interact with significant others in relationships defines us in many ways. Whether you’re a wife, a fiancé, a boyfriend, or a “special friend,” you would probably rather be a good one than not. Being a good friend, significant other, or loved one is not as easy as it seems though, especially when the world demands things of you, like it tends to do when you reach that decade between your thirsty thirties, and nifty fifties.
We spoke to some middle-aged folks who know plenty about maintaining strong relationships through our forties; they had quite a bit to say!
Dr Ernest Peets is a Pastor and marriage Counselor who has been married to his wife, Julie Peets for 25 years. Both Dr and Mrs Peets offered their insights on keeping relationships robust and fulfilling in our forties.
Dr Peets starts simple: “Each decade of marriage has its unique challenges, the key to keeping your relationship strong throughout your 40’s is the same for someone in your 20’s. The advice we were given was to continue dating. Quality time and just enjoying each other’s company are even more important when in your 40’s.”
Mrs Peets echoes her husband’s counsel: “My husband and I try to make a point to spend time together. Going on dates became a weekly thing for us as a couple before we had children. As each child came, we would plan our dates ahead of time to ensure we had some time together.
“Communication is key. Making a point to have a date night is important. Support one another’s dream. When I was 43, I had a desire to go back to school. My husband supported that desire. I went back to school and received my bachelor’s degree in Education. Those four years meant being separated for months at a time. I am thankful for technology; I had the ability to talk to my husband daily.”
The Relationship Expert, Tina Laws, offers a more detailed breakdown of forty-something relationships:
“By now, you should have an understanding of your desired relationship. Whether happily married, cohabiting, dating, recovering from a divorce, breakup, or seeking the significant other of your dreams, you should always show up to the table mirroring your expectations. Strong can mean various things to different people. However, for most of my clients in their forties, a strong relationship consists of having a mutual understanding, financial security, commitment, stability, honesty, respect, sincerity, compassion, and regular affection. If you are displaying at least 3 of these traits you are already off to a strong start or continuation. If not, maybe your idea of a strong relationship isn’t mutual but rather a one-sided agreement between you and the person looking back at you in the mirror.”
On the topic of romance, love, and affection in our forties, Dr Peets asserts that: “Love has two important components, commitment and affection (love/romance). There is no such thing as a stress or problem-free marriage; therefore, keeping your commitment and affection flourishing while managing parenting, paying bills, and doing marriage and family helps couples stay together and be happier.”
Mrs Peets expounds with: “Keeping the romance alive in a marriage is not that hard. For me I never set high expectations on what we did together. What was important was making time for one another. Giving full attention (no distractions) was important too. Just spending alone time with my spouse was important. Going out for a drive, getting ice cream, or a stroll on the beach was a highlight for my evening as long as I was with my best friend.”
Ms Laws speaks more directly: “In your forties, you should’ve already experienced a heartbreak, established a career (or recalculating), be living comfortably, be financially focused, and understand the importance of partnership. At this stage in life, the purpose of being in a relationship is to enjoy life outside of a busy career. The truth of the matter is individuals who lack the ability to be romantic or show their love and affection to their partner have yet to get over a past hurt or don’t know how. Displaying romance, love and affection in the relationship is a way of showing your significant other just how much you appreciate and are still very much attracted to them.”
Dr and Mrs Peets, who will be renewing their vows for the second time soon, closed with the following tips for forty-somethings who want to keep the fire alive in long-term relationships:
“First, if you don’t have a regular schedule for a date night, start one! Mix it up a bit, take turns with who decides on what to do on your date night. Second, weekend getaways for quality to refresh your relationship.” (Dr Peets)
“Communicate every day, share a common interest: i.e., sports, hobby, let your spouse know you love them every day. 2022 makes 25 years of marriage. This is an important milestone in our marriage. My husband and I have planned to renew our marriage vows to one another. Nothing big, just small and intimate with a few friends and family.” (Mrs Julie Peets)
Dr and Mrs Peets are simply adorable.
Ms Laws closes with a flourish, offering extensive expert tips to keep that fire burning strong:
“Be spontaneous – although schedules can be demanding, it’s extremely important to plan last minute (pop-up) dates. Some during lunch or directly after work, others during the weekend or during your free time.
“Schedule a monthly business meeting – Yes, you should always manage your financial and household affairs together. Finances, or the lack thereof, is one of the primary causes of a divorce, separation, or bitterness in relationships. Having such meetings is a great way to connect and share your input as to how the finances are flowing.
“Follow your passion – There are some couples who desire the same things, while other couples have totally different thoughts, dreams, and desires. In both instances, you should always schedule some alone time and do what you love. This is also another opportunity to provoke an interesting conversation when together.
“Don’t be afraid to go against the grain – instead of waiting for your significant other to plan the next vacation, you plan it. Schedule a meeting with a travel agent and allow them to assist you with your next location. Wrap the itinerary in a delicate box with a bow and place it on the pillow just before bedtime. This is a great way of provoking a romantic pillow conversation. Most importantly, your significant other will feel extremely special and appreciated.
“Always apologise when you’ve offended your significant other – A simple ‘Honey, I’m sorry’ can save you years of resentment. Believe it or not, 40% of the couples I coached in 2020 – 2021 struggled to meet each other in the middle because of something said or done that offended them and was never resolved. When you apologise, what you are saying to your significant other is that you will never do it again. Moreso, their heart is safe with you.”
Tina Laws is a professional Relationship Coach who can be contacted on: [email protected] com. She can also be found on Instagram at Tinatlaws50, or through her website, Tinalawsconsulting.com.