Relationship Tips from this Couple of 35+ Years

How To Keep The Spark

By Nicole Mucci

Do you ever wonder how some people can make being married look easy? Are you hoping to fill your love toolbox with practical knowledge? We’ve got you covered — or more accurately, Barbara & Rodger, two long-time Union Gospel Mission staff, and lovebirds of nearly 40 years have graciously let us into the little secrets that keep their love strong. Whether you’re newly coupled, longtime lovers, or just preparing for a future that may or may not include a special someone, read on…

1. Friendship Is Key To Lasting Love

“We met in University, and we just kind of just became friends and hung out. We ended up almost in every class together. So we saw each other every single day. He was fun. He was easy to hang out with. I didn’t know it at the time, but he said that he knew right away that I was the one he was marrying” Barbara

Before Rodger & Barbara became a couple, they built a solid foundation of friendship. Sometimes the key to successful love is compatibility. If your spouse can also be your best friend, it’s like scoring a sweet 2-for-1 deal. 

If you’re looking for a way to get to know your current partner better (or even just have a new convo with your spouse), here’s a list of 100 questions you can ask one another to deepen your friendship.

2. Take Time To Understand One Another

“Rodger has always asked me, ‘Penny for your thoughts’. And I don’t always know  how to say what I’m thinking in my brain. And he goes, ‘That doesn’t matter. Just say it.’ He said it was his responsibility to ask questions, to find out what I mean and to understand me. That’s what has kept us together for a long time, I think. I guess that’s the counsellor in him.” – Barbara

Not only was Rodger’s deep desire to understand others an excellent tool that has served him and Barbara extraordinarily well over the course of their marriage, but eventually it led him to a career as an Alcohol & Drug Recovery counsellor. For over 20 years, he used his deeply empathetic heart to save and transform the lives of countless men in UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery Program

What Barbara & Rodger display here is a deep empathy for one another, and an ability to recognize that relationships are a collaborative effort. If you’re looking for some tips on how to keep love alive, even in times of conflict, consider checking out the Gottman Institute’s “Small Things Often” Podcast. Less than 5 minutes per episode, the world-renowned relationship and love experts provide practical tips and tricks to better understand one another. 

3. Learn Each Other’s Love Languages

When asked what their favourite date activity is, or how they share their love, Barbara and Rodger shared, “Just being together, and doing things always together. We’ll ask each other, ’Do you want to go for a bike ride? Do you want to go for a walk?’Want to go out for dinner? Where would you like to go?” We’ll plan special dates, but really, it’s just doing things together.

Did you know that there are 5 Love Languages — and how you express love for someone may not be the way that they best feel loved? We won’t spoil them all, but for Barbara & Rodger, love is experienced through quality time with each other.  Take this incredible quiz, to discover how you like to show and receive love. Maybe tonight you can even do it with your partner — who knows what amazing possibilities may open up.

4. Never Go To Bed Angry

My parents taught me to never go to bed angry. It doesn’t mean you have to resolve your issue, but you must not have an angry heart as you fall asleep.” – Rodger

The old advice, “never go to sleep angry” is still often provided to newlyweds, and with good reason — there is scientific evidence to back it up. This Medium article shares that our brains are wired in such a way that the longer we drag on our negative emotions, the more deeply or intensely we will perceive them when we look back. Now, you don’t need to resolve your argument simply for the sake of not going to bed angry, but a helpful tip for a hot-topic issue is to find a reasonable middle ground, reconnect with meaningful physical touch (like a nice hug), and agree to re-address the root of your disagreement the next day when you’ve both had a breather.

5. Support One Another’s Dreams and Lift Each Other Up

We’ve got to value each other and not say that you’re lower than I am, or I’m better. We need to make ourselves smaller and think of the other person more, and say, ‘We need to do this together — not as a big ‘I’. It’s definitely teamwork. ” – Barbara

One of the reasons that Rodger & Barbara have had a lasting, enduring relationship is because they have supported and encouraged each other in every avenue of life. Rodger’s role as an Alcohol & Drug Recovery Counsellor (and then Manager) at UGM has had wonderful and joyous moments, but there have also been deeply challenging hurdles. Being able to lean into Barbara and share his heart lessens Rodger’s burdens, and reminds him he’s loved — cultivating between them a deep sense of resilience, no matter what life throws at them. Plus, working together at UGM meant Barbara & Rodger could have a daily lunch date!

Did you know that Barbara & Rodger are in fact one of several couples who work at UGM? We’re really feelin’ the love over here. 

Sign up below to learn more about the UGM fam and the life-changing work happening every day — both to our guests and our staff.

Written By: Nicole Mucci