Long-Term Couples

Here’s an uncomfortable truth ‒ if you thought entering a romantic relationship could be complicated, try keeping the flame alive for a decade. It’s all too common for couples to settle into a routine after a while, risking the sparks fizzling out if they don’t put in the effort. 

But does true love still exist? To find out, I spoke to five couples who’ve been together for 10 years or more to learn about their secrets and tips for having a long-lasting relationship. 

1. “Try new hobbies and activities that appeal to both of us”

Long-Term CouplesImage courtesy of Michelle

“I met my partner when I was 24 years old, and we’ve been together for 10 years now. The best part about being in a long-term relationship is knowing that there will always be someone to fall back on, and having a best friend whom you can share anything with. Plus, he understands what I’m thinking without me having to say it. 

The secret to maintaining a strong relationship is realising that love is a choice, not just a feeling. My partner and I make sacrifices for each other because we choose to love each other ‒ it’s important for people to understand this before making a lifelong commitment. 

One other thing we do to keep sparks alive in our relationship is to try new activities and hobbies that appeal to both of us. For instance, we decided to tackle a 5,000-piece puzzle to complete as a bonding activity. However, after completing the puzzle, we realised that we didn’t have space to store it. Nonetheless, the experience became a cherished memory for us. 

As a word of advice, I’d say to not love a person because of their positive traits, but also to embrace their flaws.”

– Michelle, 34

2. “Make it a habit to set aside time to go on dates”

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“From dating to getting married to my partner, I don’t think I’ve ever been bored with him or our relationship in the past years. I think it’s normal for couples to fall into periods where everything becomes quite routine and expected. But I kind of like the predictability ‒ at this age, I’m no longer looking for much else.

The biggest challenge we faced in our relationship was adjusting to life as new parents when we had our first child. It really pushed our relationship to the limit as we were not prepared for new expectations, the lack of sleep, and challenges to deal with. 

At times, we are still working on being a couple who are parents. But at the core of it, we’ve overcome these hurdles by always forgiving each other at the end of any fight, and remembering the good things that each other does. 

We make it a habit to set aside time to go on dates once in a while, and we always look forward to travelling to break out of our routine. While I’m clueless about what the secret to maintaining a strong relationship is, I think it’s really just about respecting each other and trying to understand each other’s perspectives. Forgiveness and trust are also key ingredients.”

– Amara, 35

3. “Give each other space and distance”

Long-Term CouplesFor illustrative purposes only

“My wife and I met when we were 17 years old, and having been together for 13 years, I understand all of her quirks and am able to easily read her mood. 

The best part about being with her is knowing that she will always be there for me whenever I need her. Whether it’s at the end of a long day or when I am looking forward to our next trip, knowing that she is always a part of the process makes me feel really secure.

My tip for maintaining sparks in a relationship might sound unconventional, but I’d say to give each other space and distance. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder. It probably won’t work for every couple, but I believe that having your alone time helps to strengthen your love for each other even more.  

Ultimately, I think a relationship takes work over a very long period of time. Those who are looking to enter a romantic relationship need to be ready to commit and work hard for their partner and themselves.” 

– William, 31

4. “Make an effort to learn about each other’s interests”

Long-Term CouplesImage courtesy of Charmaine Sew

“This year marks the 12th year I’ve been together with my boyfriend since we met in polytechnic, and there has never been a dull moment with him. Even now, I still have lots of fun with him as if I’m going on our first date ‒ we make each other laugh, and I still get the “butterflies” from time to time. Plus, we express our love for each other through words of affirmation and actions.

The secret to maintaining a strong relationship differs from couple to couple, but I believe that it’s important to communicate to prevent any misunderstandings. I would advise against sleeping on an argument, and it’s best to talk and resolve matters before things escalate for the worse. 

One thing that I did to maintain sparks between us was to make an effort to learn about my boyfriend’s interests ‒ he enjoys gaming and watches DOTA tournaments. Although I had no clue about DOTA, I accompanied him to Bali to catch the live tournaments last year. During that time, I fully immersed myself in it and learned about the game. I even had a team I supported, which made the experience more enjoyable for both of us.

At the end of the day, I believe the duration of a relationship isn’t always the most important factor as there are couples who go their separate ways later in life. Instead of comparing your relationship with others or with your previous relationships, you should focus on the present, maintain strong communication, and put in an effort to learn about your partner’s interests.”

– Charmaine Sew, 30

5. “Important to have goals to work on together as a couple”

Long-Term CouplesFor illustrative purposes only

“Being a decade-old same-sex couple, my partner and I have faced challenges regarding housing and coming out to each other’s families over the years. I’m glad that we’ve overcome most of them so far, and we got engaged last year. 

Most of my friends and family members were shocked yet impressed with our long-term relationship, probably because of the stereotype that same-sex couples are “promiscuous and can’t settle down.” That’s not necessarily true. My partner and I do know many couples – gay and straight – who have maintained strong long-term relationships. 

Having life milestones such as going for holidays and moving in together helps to maintain sparks between us, and I find it important to have goals to work on as a couple to keep things exciting. 

Most importantly, open communication is essential to maintaining a strong relationship ‒ telling your partner exactly how you feel or what you think at the moment cultivates a strong understanding of each other. I personally wouldn’t understand how couples function if they aren’t happy about something, but instead swallow it and complain to their friends and family.”

– Derrick, 33

These Tips By Couples Together 10 Years Or More Show That Maintaining A Relationship Is Never Easy

No one said that being in a relationship is like a walk in the park, and these couples show that a lot of effort and hard work are required to sustain one. For more inspirational love stories, check out how three Singaporean couples pulled off overseas proposals

Cover: Images courtesy of Michelle and Charmaine Sew. 

Also read: 

I Left My 10-Year Relationship After My Husband Cheated Twice & Found Love Again On Dating Apps At 32