13 Long-Term Couples Explain How Love Gets Stronger As Time Goes On


1. “In the beginning, we were absolutely mad about each other—and we still are. But we’re much more mature now, as individuals and as a couple. When we fight, for instance, we get into it trusting that we’ll figure things out—eventually. So the experience is less dramatic and less upsetting. The downs are less extreme than they once were, you could say, but the ups are just as great.”

— Sally, 32

2. “What I’ve learned is that it’s entirely possible to fall in love with someone again and again and again. I cherish my wife and at least once every year, I fall for her all over again, but harder. Love only grows stronger if you keep at it, even throughout the trying phases.”

— Max, 38

3. “Today, I truly feel like one half of a unit. Like our relationship is a being in and of itself, and that I am a part of that. When we’re apart, even for just the day because we’re both at work or hanging out with friends, I get this phantom limb type of feeling, like part of me is kind of there but also gone. As time passes, I miss my husband more and more because our lives have become so much more intricately intertwined. That kind of closeness only develops over time.”

— Hadley, 31

4. “Friendship is the most important component to an enriching relationship. Back when I first started dating my wife, I never would have said that. I would have sighted physical attraction or chemistry or common interests as the driving force behind lasting love. But today I see that I am married to my best friend in the world, and that our friendship is what keeps us together more than anything else.”

— Paul, 39

5. “I used to envision the path to relationship happiness as this majestic, well lit, easy-to-navigate, wide-open road. Now I know that the path is zigzagged and hilly, and that you’re going to keep tripping over brambles along the way. But it’s worth doing whatever it takes to march along, hand in hand, with the person you love.”

— Jasmine, 42

6. “I really had no idea what I was getting into when I said ‘yes’ to marriage after just six months of dating my husband, but boy am I glad that I didn’t second guess our love. All I really knew at the start was that my heart literally pounded through my chest whenever I laid eyes on him. We were young and 100 percent infatuated with each other, so our early days flew by—a string of long walks and long talks and wild, mind-blowing sex. I didn’t know that once you settle into life as an official couple, things inevitably slow down. I didn’t anticipate the routine of domestic life. That all took some getting used to, but I held onto that gut feeling that I’d made the right choice, and eventually I learned to love our quieter co-existence. When it comes to love, you really have to trust your gut at every stage.”

— Chimera, 35

7. “People always say that the sex dies once you tie the knot, but that doesn’t have to be the case. After ten years, there’s no one else’s body you know as well as your lover’s, and you feel comfortable communicating what you want and need out of lovemaking. We’re doing it just as often as we did back in the day, and we’re getting better and better at it.”

— Clint, 40

8. “You know how they say ‘youth is wasted on the young’? I feel that way about passionate love—that it’s wasted on new lovers, in a way. Only as time goes by do you really start to appreciate just how special certain moments are, because you understand that they won’t be happening every single day. Love is a journey and you learn to truly relish the most joyful elements as you go.”

— Madeleine, 37

9. “These days, we’re both aware that we’re going to have bad days, and good days. That sometimes, we will wake up hating each other for no particular reason. You can’t expect to feel only admiration and awe towards your partner every day for the rest of your lives. If you let yourselves expect a purely peaceful ongoing joint existence, you’ll be gravely disappointed, and poorly prepared to weather the stormier elements. It’s better to accept each other’s humanity. To know that sometimes your significant other is going to drive you insane, and that that’s okay. Because you’re going to drive them crazy too sometimes.”

— Nevin, 33

10. “Long-term love is about balance, I now understand. You have to balance your happiness with your partner’s, because a relationship won’t last unless both people feel fulfilled in their own lives. In the beginning, I tried too hard to make my husband happy without tending to my own needs and we suffered as a couple because of that. I’m a better partner today now that I know how important it is for me to spend time on myself and to figure out how to lead a rewarding life inside and outside of our relationship.”

— Margeurite, 37

11. “Over the course of the years, you experience so much together as a couple—promotions, moves, celebrations, births, deaths, disappointments, illnesses—that you end up growing so much together. But growth only occurs if you choose your relationship—and each other—over and over again. You have to choose to stay together. You have to evolve as a couple, two trees bending in tandem in response to life’s many surprise winds. Otherwise, one of you will get in the other’s way. Or, worse yet, someone’s trunk will snap.”

— Kaden, 45

12. “At the start of our relationship, I was terrified not to be with my husband. I wanted to spend every single second possible at his side, so I agreed to do whatever he wanted and to go wherever he pleased. We were definitely obsessed with each other, but mutual obsession isn’t sustainable. Plus, I think my fixation on being together at all times was rooted in insecurity. I’ve since grown much more confident—in myself and in our love—so I know that we can spend a few days apart pursuing our separate interests and that reuniting will almost always be wonderful.”

— Ashleigh, 34

13. “When you’re newly in love, everything is so easy, it’s hard to predict that things will get tougher, even if you’re pragmatic enough to realize that the early, lustful phase has to end at some point. If you think you’re alone in working on your relationship as time passes, you’re wrong. Every single couple that stays together long-term is constantly working on their relationship and that’s no reason to be ashamed. It’s actually something to be quite proud of, if you think about it—that you and your spouse are willing to do the work required to keep your relationship in tact.”

— Robert, 34 Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Mélanie Berliet

I adore the following, in no particular order: knee-high tube socks, acrostic poetry, and my little brother. Click here to learn more!

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