The older I get, the more I realize just how much my grandparents taught me over the years. They passed away when I was fairly young, so I unfortunately didn’t get to know them as well as I could have. But if there’s one thing I do remember about them, it’s the incredibly strong bond that they shared—even after 60 years of marriage.
Yes, you read that right—60 whole years.
Can you imagine spending six decades by the same person’s side? I mean, I practically go nuts after two hours of Shakira-car-singing in the car by myself.
I think it’s safe to say that my grandparents cracked the code on how to have el amor stand the test of time.
But what was their secret?
Over the years, I observed several little tricks of theirs when it comes to keeping the spark alive. Here are seven tips that not only helped my grandparents’ love lives—but can give your modern relationship a major boost as well!
7 Dating Hacks I Stole From My Grandparents
1. Keep a routine.
Maintaining a routine can be tedious, but we all know that it’s a necessary part of a successful daily life. Well, it turns out that having a bit of a routine in your relationship might not be such a bad idea either.
Rain or shine, my grandparents made home-cooked meals together every single night (never skipping dessert), and went to church together every Sunday.
But they weren’t robots set on permanent auto-pilot—they did accommodate changes when something came up. But whenever possible, they stuck to their rituals—thus strengthening their already-solid bond. If your relationship feels stalled, consider adopting a routine to shake things up.
2. Do fun, hands-on projects.
Back in the 1940s when my grandparents were a couple of twenty-something newlyweds, they decided to take on an astronomical project together: to build their first house. I repeat: they built their entire house together by hand.
My grandma was an artist and my grandpa was an engineer with an interest in carpentry, so they basically invented the word DIY for all I’m concerned! Not only were they able to custom-build their house exactly how they’d pictured it (they even hand-mixed concrete to the exact consistency they wanted), but they also used the opportunity as a major bonding experience.
Once their house was built (which came out amazing, by the way), they collaborated on several other woodworking and mural projects over the years.
But don’t worry—you don’t have to be a super-artist to do projects with your partner. If you find an activity that suits both of your strengths, the memory-making will be almost effortless.
3. Keep your space in the bedroom.
No—this piece of advice isn’t what you’re thinking. When I say that they “kept their space in the bedroom,” I mean that they slept in separate beds. Instead of owning a bed big enough for two, each of them had their own full-sized bed in their room.
This might seem strange to some people, but think of it this way—they were able to stretch out as much as they wanted and enjoy restful nights of sleep. Instead of harboring resentment because the other had been yanking the sheets off of them and snoring in their face all night long, they were actually excited to see each other in the morning. Pure genius, if you ask me.
4. Do something for others—together.
Experts say that one of the keys to happiness is giving back to others, and this was no secret to my grandparents. Even when they had two kids of their own and full-time jobs, they always made sure to participate in some sort of charity work.
Since they were such great cooks (I can still taste their green bean casserole), they volunteered for Meals on Wheels, an organization in which volunteers cook and deliver meals to people in-need.
Half of the time, my grandparents were decades older than the people they were cooking for, but their old age never slowed them down. Putting others’ needs before their own, all the while working as a team, was something that I noticed strengthened their relationship beyond words.
5. Write handwritten notes to each other.
When my grandparents first started dating, my grandpa was shipped off to fight in WWII (talk about bad timing!). But instead of simply breaking up and moving on, my grandma and grandpa continued to keep in touch and write each other letters.
Despite the thousands of miles of distance between them, they knew that their love was something worth holding onto, even when times were tough. And all of their patience paid off, because they had a beautiful wedding when he returned home. To top it all off, my grandma had the most beautiful, calligraphy-worthy handwriting, so no wonder my grandpa swooned over her.
Writing handwritten letters or notes might seem like a thing of the past in today’s world, but believe me when I tell you that it just might be what gives your relationship a special little spark.
6. Support each other in front of others.
My grandma used to describe herself as a “naturally nervous person,” most likely meaning that she had an anxiety disorder (that went undiagnosed in those days). My grandpa was just the opposite—cool, calm, and collected–truly balancing the yang to her yin.
Whenever my grandma would get flustered or overwhelmed (which inevitably happens when you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people!), my grandpa was always right there by her side offering her encouraging words. It would have been the easy way out for him to get angry with my grandma for stressing herself out, but instead he always patiently supported her—no matter what.
7. Hold hands.
Please excuse me while I ugly-cry while telling this one (**blows nose obnoxiously**). The last picture that was ever taken of my grandparents together before they passed is one of them sitting on the couch side-by-side—and hand-in-hand. Even after decades of marriage, I always saw them showing little displays of physical affection, whether it be a warm hand on the other’s shoulder or a bit of hand-holding.
Physical affection is more important to some people than others, so it may be a good idea to find out what your partner’s primary love languages are. In my grandparents’ case, I could tell that it was a key way that they showed gratitude to each other over the years.
In their marriage full of shared giggles, smirks, and smiles, my grandparents proved that their union was beyond successful. They left behind plenty of secrets on how to make a relationship stand the test of time—hacks that you just might find come in handy in today’s day and age.
So if your relationship is in a slump (or even if it’s going well!), give these tips a try. You never know…they just might lead you to a 60-plus years of happiness!