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Relationships are at the heart of the human story and some are luckier than others

By Nina Steele 

Childless older womenMy experience of life has been hugely enhanced by working with the elderly. The job itself was not always easy, and office politics didn’t help either. However, the many stories I was privy to, taught me a great deal about what matters in life, and relationships are at the top of the list. One of those relationships I came across, was between two sisters. Both had never married and didn’t have children either. They lived together pretty much most of their adult lives and the significance of their relationship became more apparent in old age.

These days, it is impossible not have come across a story of how increasingly lonely old people are in the West. These stories of loneliness are usually about elderly people who live alone, for one reason or another. With that in mind, you can imagine how lucky the two sisters felt for having one another. The younger sister was in her 80s, while the eldest was in her 90s, even so, they were fiercely independent. They were both very active and apart from having a cleaner, they did everything else themselves. Sadly, the younger sister passed away last year. The last I heard was that the older sister, who was always the more outspoken and more confident of the two, was getting on fine.

For each one of us, relationships come in many shapes and forms. Whether it is with a partner, a friend or a family member, having someone in our life that we know we can count on, makes a huge difference to our overall happiness and state of mind. Life can be such a struggle at times that to have someone there to share some of the burden with, is an absolute blessing. Which is why, I never take my relationship with my husband for granted, and always strive to be a better wife, and thankfully he does the same.

We are bombarded with advice on what to expect in relationships, and often those advice are not in our best interest. What I have come to realise as I grow older is that, when it comes to relationships, it is better to go with your instinct. Decisions should be based on what you ultimately want from life. Chances are that, what is right for another person, may not be right for you. The bottom line is that, you have to know what you want and stick with it, no matter what. If you don’t know what you want, and let yourself be distracted by what other people are doing with their lives, you will come to regret it later.

It is because I knew what I wanted that my marriage survived infertility. And what I value most in the relationship with my husband is the companionship. Someone to do things with, and to talk to, on regular basis. Companionship for me trumps everything else, and even more so, now that I know what I know about getting old in the West.

Whatever the nature of your relationship, if it is a healthy and happy one, then consider yourself lucky. That’s because good relationships are one of life’s most sought after commodities, and not everyone will experience it.

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