themighty logo

5 Ways to Keep Love Alive in Life With (or Without) a Disability

I’ve been with my hubby for 29 years (wow, I’m old!)

We got together young, at 18, and growing into and through adulthood together has made it both easier and harder in some respects. We’ve certainly had a long and varied journey, and we’ve been through some very low lows as well as some brilliant highs. We’ve almost broken up a couple of times, in situations that would break most couples, but we made it and came out through the other side honestly stronger than ever. With 30 years coming up on the horizon, I thought I might be in the position to compose a list of the top five things that keep love alive.

For the first time, I am actually going to prioritize my list, counting down to the most important ingredient, because that ingredient is so important it does warrant it’s own count down:

5. Equality in the home and family. Helping each other and helping equally with home and childcare and whatever else is going on in your lives.

4. Supporting each other in dreams and life goals. Being best friends, but more…

3. Making time for each other. Date night! Sex! If you have kids, you will understand this one. Add two jobs and a mortgage to the kids and you will really understand this one. We make mini dates for coffees, meals and chats and bigger dates for movies, other outings, doing art etc. Book it in, or the days, weeks, months and years will fly by and one day you’ll look up at your spouse and you won’t recognize them.

2. Listening to each other. Really. Listen to each other. Be quiet. Open your ears and your mind and your heart. Let your partner finish what they want to say. Process. Consider before you reply. Don’t be a broken record, always arguing the same points again and again, letting the same grudges surface every time one of you is angry. Either deal with it or drop it. Move on.

Get counseling if you need it and don’t feel weird about it. Sometimes you just need to run things past an impartial person to get clarity and perspective. Lives are complicated. People are complicated. And walking through life together can be a tricky and messy thing.

1. Be kind to each other. This may sound boring and Sunday Schoolish, but it is so important. We have had more stresses put on us than some people — infertility, miscarriages, a disabled child, my own declining health — to name the biggies. We have both been stressed and stretched to the point of breaking on several occasions and if we didn’t act toward each other with utter kindness, despite our own hurting, despite the other person maybe not being in the best mood, we wouldn’t have made it.

That bit in your vows about for better or worse, in sickness and health is real. It will happen, you just don’t know when. Love knows no boundaries and there is no end to the human capacity to give. When you have walked through life with someone, hand in hand, I believe you will know this as truth.

Is it worth it? Absolutely, if you are with the right someone.

I taught my daughter from a very young age the three rules for making sure you are with the right person:

1. They are nice to you.
2. You have things in common.
3. You have fun together.

Not complicated at all, is it.

This story originally appeared on Living Positively With Disability.