“Relish love in your old age! Aged love is like aged wine; it becomes more satisfying, more refreshing, more valuable, more appreciated and more intoxicating!” -Leo Buscaglia
This article is dedicated to Lindsey’s grandfather, James Melvin “Mel” Dalton, who passed away at the age of 91, on Sunday, March 24, 2013. His funeral was this past weekend.
Sometimes people believe that it isn’t as bad when an “old” person passes away because that person has “lived” their lives. The flip side to this, however, is that they’ve had more time to make an impact on the hearts of their loved ones.
Lindsey’s grandpa and grandma have been side by side for 64 years! And through these 64 years, they have been relationship role models for Lindsey, and more recently, for David too.
In a time when we are surrounded by many broken, superficial, or unhealthy relationships, it can be very powerful to identify relationship mentors/role models in our lives. What made their relationship so powerful, especially as they grew older, was that they lived by the following principle:
Live like it’s your last day on earth… No. Love like it’s your last day on earth.
That doesn’t mean to love carelessly. It means to learn to forgive, to let go of the little things, and to focus on appreciation. Lindsey’s grandparents achieved this kind of congruence through hard work and dedication to love.
With that framework in mind, we’ve learned 5 keys to enhance Relationship Zen:
1. Create shared experiences/rituals
Do you share recurring experiences that are unique and unifying? Some examples are sharing your favourite tea and cookies together, grabbing some lunch and sitting in a park, appreciating the sunlight on a porch, going for drives or walks, and making bedtime and the morning a sacred time for your relationship.
2. Create shared language/symbols
In your day-to-day conversations, do you share positive stories or symbols that are unique to your relationship? Or, do you tend to bring up the times when your partner was disappointing? Or, the last time they did something that made you angry? The Daltons regularly shared positive memories and stories with each other – Lindsey’s grandparents constantly reminisced about happy moments. This allowed them to return to the present with even more appreciation for each other. Did you know that when you recount a good memory your brain actually releases the same happy hormones that it had when the experience occurred?
3. Make laughter a larger part of your dialogue
Are you getting an appropriate dose of positive laughter? Or, have most of your conversations become a little boring and repetitive? Lindsey’s grandmother loves comics and this is something that would make them laugh together when she would read them out loud. Her grandparents both had an amazing sense of humour that kept them (and others!) laughing. Even when struggling to take breaths in the hospital, Lindsey’s grandpa still made us laugh. This kind of laughter is disarming, heart-warming, and unifying.
4. Focus on high value interaction
Do you spend “quality” time engaging in conversation and doing team activities? Or, do you spend most of your time “together” in a passive or non-engaged/connected way? Lindsey’s grandparents would rarely be in their private worlds when they were together (whether hooked onto the phone, computer, newspaper, TV, etc) – they certainly focused on each other. Remember, being present is one of the easiest and most impactful gifts that you can give to yourself and to others.
5. Exude care
This is difficult to describe because it’s felt intuitively. Care is the result of a deep appreciation for the other. Care is often demonstrated through action, not through words. Lindsey’s grandparents were continuously looking out for each other’s best interest, safety, and health. Her grandfather, in old age and with multiple health conditions, would go down to the basement to grab things that her grandmother needed because she has arthritis… even if it took him twice as long to do so! This didn’t come from a fear or insecurity – they balanced each other out and really cared for each other in every sense of the word. Cute eh?
We hope that you're able relate to some of the concepts. Although they may seem like “common sense”, if you look around they aren’t so “common”.
James Melvin Dalton always said: “We must have done something right!” Well, grandpa Dalton, I think that’s the understatement of the century. You and Grammie have shown us what love in this world can look like and we will honour it to the best of our ability. Thank you.
Thanks for reading everyone. As usual, please continue the conversation on Facebook or in the comment section below.