The biggest benefits to being in a long-term relationship

The best thing you'll ever do in your life is have a great relationship. It's simply an objective fact.

Because it's best to write about what you know, this is from the perspective of a straight male, but I have no doubt it's a fact that applies to a sizeable chunk of humanity on the planet.

Most of us know a commitment-phobe who will argue that freedom, thrill of the chase, variety of bedpost notches and indulgent me-time, beats the monotony of monogamy.

Slick Rick, the determinedly single buddy we all have, says stuff like "Mate, why would you eat the same thing every night when there's a smorgasbord on offer?" Don't be tempted to envy him. There's often salmonella in the bain-marie.

Fortunately, Barack Obama and Ryan Gosling agree with me.

Behind every great man

Accepting his Golden Globe last week, Gosling melted the hearts of mummy-bloggers everywhere, when he said of partner Eva Mendes: "I just would like to try and thank one person properly, and say that while I was singing and dancing and playing piano and having one the best experiences I've ever had on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second … If she hadn't taken all that on so that I could have this experience, there would surely be someone else up here other than me to today. Sweetheart, thank you."

Obama, in his final address as President, tearfully thanked Michelle for the last 25 years for being not only "my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn't ask for with grace and with wit and with style and good humour."

Both men, at big moments in their lives, took a moment to point out that it would all be meaningless without the unparalleled joy to be experienced in a partnership that works.

Through thick and thin

Last year, I had a couple of moments in my professional life which were the most challenging, sad, momentous and downright bizarre of a fairly long career. All my life, no doubt quite annoyingly, I've been Mr Happy Trousers, sipping smugly on my half-full glass. But for a while I didn't know what was wrong with me. I felt weird, low, unmotivated, hopeless even. It turned out I was depressed. Who knew!


My partner just wasn't having any of it. I've helped her through a hysterectomy at 32 and her own tough moments professionally and now, when it was her turn, she stepped up with a backbone of steel. Each day she helped me count the beautiful things and deal with the crap. When we say, and I acknowledge your justified wave of nausea here, "I got your back, Babe," we both know it's absolutely, unquestionably, true.

But what's sexy about that, Slick Rick will ask?


It's a hard job, but someone has to do it

Study after study (I've read most of them) will tell you she's much more likely to orgasm with a long-term partner than some random. Yep, Relationship Guy is much better in bed than Casual Sex Guy. Sucks to be you, Rick.

Sure, after a few years, your sext life may be less 50 Shades than 50 Things To Get at The Supermarket but if you're friends, trust each other and still laugh together, it's very easy to keep things smokin'.

I've lost count of the number of people in long-term relationships who have thanked me for sending them this info. "Working" at a good sex life is like "working" on driving your Ferrari or "working" on your three-week European holiday.

It does help if you share a sense of humour. All things relating to farts and saying humiliating things to the cat are particular favourites at home.

Slightly unsettling, after enduring the attentions of a few feckless little douche-lords, my own daughter seems to have found a nice boy at 18, and, at the moment, she's delirious. He's smart, respectful, adores her and coped quite well with the news I will chop him up with the blunt axe I keep in a secret boyfriend cupboard should he put a foot wrong.

It's all better, together

My speedily advancing years tell me money, cars, jobs, suits and watches (all very cool things, don't get me wrong) will ultimately mean nothing, and when I have my inevitable Homer Simpson-esque heart explosion, I want her at my side, saying "Hahaha, smell this!" and sneaking a go at my pain medication.

Neither of us could have got to this point in our lives, without the other. Every wake-up, every goodnight, every meal, every dance in the back yard, every drive to work, is better together.

A great relationship is a wonderful thing, worth pursuing, and keeping, more than anything else in life.

Like my mates Barack and Ryan, I too want to say, "thanks, Babe".

What's your definition of a great relationship? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.

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