When I was a little girl I loved the fairy tale stories about how a handsome prince would save Snow White and they would live happily ever after…..or so the story went.

As a teenager I would flick through the pages of Dolly magazine and read articles on love and dream about ‘the one’ and wait in hope that one day he would appear. I would spend hours reading Mills & Boon books and believing that when I met ‘the one’ that’s what my relationship would be like. Well, what is love and relationships all about? Is it about holding hands, passionate kisses or staring into each other’s eyes, declaring ‘I love you every day’ or getting flowers every week? Is it finding your ‘soul mate’ that brings you all the happiness you long for?

When I married at 19 years old, I thought that loving my husband would be easy and that our marriage would last as long as we shared our love. Giving love, sharing love and making love is easy. Maintaining love in a marriage is something else. Within months of getting married, we started to argue and disagree about silly stuff. For the whole of our first year it felt like we argued about nothing and everything. Sometimes we would argue for days. Every year of our marriage we had challenges, upsets, arguments, problems and consistent adjustments. Exhausting work really.. Of course there were great times in our relationship and fortunately for us, the good days always outweighed the bad days. My husband and I are happily together after more than 30 years of marriage. We have two adult children who live with us. We continue to love and honour each other and feel blessed that we are sharing our life together.

What is love really?

Love is…Forgiveness
We all want to be right. Some of us will fight to the end to be right. But I ask myself – do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? You may have heard this already. It’s not easy to decide to be happy, when you believe that you have been misunderstood or you have been hurt by a comment by your partner. Saying sorry and forgiveness is the key to happiness.

Love is …Patience
We live in a fast paced world and sometimes we want our ‘love’ now and we want to feel good now. We want instant gratification and we want it to last. During the 30 years there were different times of growth for both my husband and I. I got married as a teenager, then I became a mother and then I grew into a woman. There were many stages of personal growth and changes and we would have to be patient and wait for when the other person grew too. Sometimes this would take months or even years.

Love is ….Acceptance
We all have different views of the world and as much as we say that we accept that, we don’t really. Women are always complaining that men don’t understand them. Perhaps men really don’t get us, perhaps they are not paying attention or listening, or perhaps they just have a different view. Every person has different beliefs, values and experiences and these make up the ingredients to how you interpret your world. Respect your partner’s view of their world.

Love is …Compromise
One of the hardest things that I have had to compromise in my relationship was accepting that my husband smokes. I have always and continue to hate it. Another thing that I have had to compromise with is his obsession with sport. I call his favourite football team – his winter wife. He hangs out with his winter wife more than me during footy season. Compromising is working out a way that works for both of you. My husband hates the beach and the sand and I love it. He will sit under an umbrella on the beach for hours to keep me company. It works both ways.

Love is … Team work

A friend of mine one said to me “your husband treat’s you like a princess”. I wasn’t sure how to take that, so I asked for an explanation. She said that my husband was always there to help out with the dishes, the washing and even take care of a cup of tea. I believe that our marriage has lasted because we both work well together as a team. Again, it works both ways. Yes, he helps around the kitchen and laundry, but hey, I am always there with the hammer and nails to put a bookshelf together. In our house, there is no “I” in team which for us means that we put the team’s (family’s) interest before our own.

Love is …Perseverance
When I look back over the 30 years I see that some years were a lot harder than others. We had our issues; we went through stages of being complacent and took each other for granted. We also had job losses, financial problems, loss of loved ones and so many other challenges. The dictionary meaning of perseverance states: doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. The key to perseverance is putting one foot in front of the other and having faith that there are some wonderful things ahead.

There is no greater joy or greater pain that comes from ‘love’. Our most valued emotion is connection and love, ahead of success and achievement. It is one of the core needs of every human being.

Every relationship has its up and downs. In every kind of relationship you have choices: you can leave, stay or choose to love your partner. I continue to ‘choose’ to love my husband.

You can create love and achieve long lasting love – just focus on all the good in your partner. Once you learn to do this easily, your love will come easily too.

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Pina is a behavioural strategist and mindset expert who specialises in helping women achieve a healthy mind, body and lifestyle. She is passionate in empowering women to create a life of purpose, vision and personal power. She is dedicated to transforming lives by increasing their self-confidence and self-esteem and achieve success in their life, their health and wellbeing goals and get their vitality and zest for life back.

Pina offers a number of programs with one-on-one sessions that provide a fully supported service that takes care of people every step of the way. Her style is fun, relaxed and focuses on making the journey really simple and easy to do.