Help me make it through the night

People often think that the key to successful long-term relationships is exciting, mind-bending and contorted sexual positions with sex toys and skimpy underwear.

In reality, few things could be more alienating and devastating for a relationship and nothing could be further from the truth.

The real key to staying in love with your partner over the decades (and becoming more and more ‘in love’ over time) is great conversation that sometimes leads to friendly, chatty, co-operative sex – not so different to sharing a great meal together!  Mutual and simultaneous orgasm pretty much always assumed.

But this type of love is not so easy to come by.  It requires a willingness to see your partner as a real living human being and not an object to be bent into shape, derided or subordinated.  It requires seeing ourselves as on the same side (never as ‘the other’) so that success for our partner means success for us.   Central to this relationship is genuine equality and kindness and it involves being willing to share ourselves warts and all.

To achieve it, we must be prepared to talk about the everyday things (like the shopping) and the hard things (like our conflicts and embarrassments) before, after and even during intimacy.  We need to have the courage to share many of our thoughts, even the unacceptable and conflictual ones and certainly all the brilliant ones (!) so that our partner can truly ‘know’ us.

This genuine closeness gives us a very best friend who we can totally trust, and it helps us make it through the night during the times (we all experience) of fear, doubt, fragility and agonising human suffering.