What Is Love? 4 Irish Couples Of All Ages Share Their Secrets To A Happy Relationship

Megan Roantree explores what it takes to make a relationship last.

Mary is an acupuncturist, who does hypnotherapy and reconnective healing. Her partner John is a songwriter and producer. Both turn 66 this year and have been married for over four decades

Mary: We have been together 45 years. We took off travelling together six months after
we met and we were married a year later in 1974. We always consider taking off together as the beginning of our married life. We mark that as our anniversary rather than our actual wedding. We married in a little church at the back of the pro-cathedral in Dublin. I chose that tiny church because that was where my mam and dad were married and I could not imagine myself walking up the long aisle of our local 1950’s church.We have two children now, Dan, 43 and Kojii, 37. We have four grandchildren; two girls and two boys, Croi (12), Eala (7), Solas (4), and the youngest Finn is a year old.

John: Being in a happy relationship means that we were able to be both independent and part of a couple. You can get on with living and not just with surviving. It means always having someone in your corner even if sometimes it’s just helping with time and space to explore. It also means being realistic and taking the good with the bad.

Mary: Over the years we have both explored and changed careers and when it came to John touring with his band An Emotional Fish, and my going to China to study acupuncture, each of us had someone in our corner that we could rely on. It has helped us both to grow and to explore.

We got married when we were 22 so there weren’t any real previous relationships other than dating, but I do remember when we first met it was an instant connection. I think what is special about our relationship is that we have grown up together, we are together now twice as long as we were single.

John: Remember being equal means taking an equal share in all the responsibilities of the relationship, money and raising children. Above all, become friends.

Patrice (28) and Paul (31) have been together nine years and are due to be married in September 2019. The couple say that together, they were both able to relax from day one

Patrice: A happy relationship to me means I have a partner in crime and that I get to be truly myself (even the worst version) and Paul is there for me. Nine years in I still look forward to hanging out with Paul, he knows how to pick me up at my low points and vice versa but we haven’t lost that giddy/fun side to the relationship (even with trying to plan a wedding and buy a house).

Paul: It means having a partner to enjoy the good things and face the bad. It also means always having someone by my side who I love, trust and respect.

Patrice: I was at ease from our first date and felt like I was out with my best friend, not just someone I liked. I never hid from being me, no matter how weird I was in front of Paul.

Paul: Since day one I’ve been comfortable enough to be completely myself around Patrice – flaws and all.

Patrice: My advice for couples starting out is not to lose who you are outside of the relationship. At the end of the day, the reason you got together was how you were as an individual but why it works as a couple is you both accept the others life and interests. You should be each other’s cheerleader and therapist when needed. Also, phones away on the proper date nights to just chat again.

Paul: Be a happy person in your own right before trying to find happiness in a relationship. And always remember it’s a partnership – lift the other person up, support them and fill in their blanks.

Paddy (40) and Dominika (or Mika), 39, have been married for two years. They have an 18-month-old baby together, and a 21-year-old son from Patrick’s previous relationship. Together for 10 years, they learned to appreciate each other even more when Paddy had to undergo surgery for a brain tumour in 2017

Paddy: For me, being in a happy relationship means honesty and truthfulness. We got married because I knew I didn’t want to be with anyone else. We were always committed but when I got the news about my health it made me much more appreciative. e night we got the news about my brain tumour, we knew we were in it together.

When I was getting headaches the only thing that was keeping me going was Mika, Alex and Luke. I knew I’d be there for her and she’d be there for me. Through all that we were never miserable because we were together, we were always there for each other more so than us feeling sorry for ourselves.

Sometimes during tough moments we didn’t have to say anything. at really made us appreciate having each other.

Dominika: It’s the comfort of coming home with someone waiting for you, and knowing everything will be okay, that’s the best part. There isn’t much of a difference now we are married because it’s really only a piece of paper, but it’s one step up because you’re committed and saying you’re going to be with this person for your whole life. It’s a lovely gesture between you and this person.

When Paddy was sick it was hard because you know what you could lose. I think we appreciate our life more because we know what we could have lost.

Paddy: My advice for new couples would be just go with the flow, you shouldn’t have to work at it really when you first start out. Your natural personality should shine through so don’t change because then the other person is seeing someone who is not really you.

Dominika: You can’t pretend to be someone else, because why would you waste someone’s time? You can’t tell someone you want all the same things if you don’t. It’s not fair. So it’s important to be yourself.

Adam Cummins AKA Miss Taken (22) and Adam McKay aka Miss Roots (21) have been together eight months and their names aren’t the only thing they have in common. Both have a love of all things drag and describe themselves as partners in crime

Adam Cummins: For me, being in a relationship means more than just having someone to come home to in the evening and someone to do stuff with. A relationship is mutual understanding, love, support, laughter, tears and of course, they’re fun to do stuff with too.

Adam McKay: It means having someone to laugh with and cry with. It’s not having to worry about facing things alone anymore. It’s also wondering how you really made it this far without them. That’s what our relationship means to me anyway.

Adam Cummins: I don’t think any two relationships are the same, but I know this relationship feels right. It took me a while after my previous relationship to realise I wasn’t happy and we definitely were not a match. Compared to my previous relationship, I find myself planning my life with Ad… we just click.

Adam McKay: I haven’t been in a previous relationship but so far so good! I find our relationship special because we fell in love the old romantic movie way where we were best friends first and just grew from there. It’s also special because of what we both do. We kinda just understand each other completely in a sense. It’s also really cliché but it’s that kind of relationship when I’m excited for him to be the first person I see when I wake up and the last person I see before I go to sleep.

Adam Cummins: My only advice is to build trust from the start and, as cliché as it is, honesty is the best policy! Be open and honest from the start and you’ll build a healthy relationship from the get go!

Adam McKay: My advice to new couples would be to be honest. I remember being
afraid of every little feeling I felt at first because it was my first relationship, but by opening up, it was such a relief because it made me realise he was freaking out just as much as me. Turns out neither of us knew what we were doing, and still don’t. But we are in it together.

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