7 Secrets of Lasting Relationships
Most of us desire a deeply satisfying, lasting relationship, but statistics show that we’re failing miserably. We know that half of all marriages end in divorce, but perhaps more alarming is that the average relationship now lasts only 6 months. What are we doing wrong? Relationship experts have studied long-lasting, happy relationships seeking the answer to that question. But perhaps the best advice can be found by listening to the real experts, the people who have found the secrets to making their relationships not only last, but thrive in this culture of revolving door relationships. Not surprisingly, there are common threads running through most of those enduring partnerships.
If you want any hope of building a lasting relationship, you need to connect on a regular basis. Plain and simple. You have to make time for each other. We get so busy in the day to day living of our lives that we sometimes forget to pay attention to our relationship. Whether it’s cuddling on the sofa to watch a movie, going out with friends, sharing what happened during our day or exploring interests together, we need time to connect with one another.
Communication is a deal breaker. The quality of communication in a relationship often determines the quality of the relationship. It’s not enough just to chat, you have to really communicate, share, and listen. Tell your partner what you’re feeling, what you need, what makes you happy, and what doesn’t. We get caught in the trap of thinking our partner “should just know” what we’re thinking and feeling. We’re not mind readers. If you want your partner to know what you’re thinking, you have to TELL THEM! In return, you have to listen to your partner, really listen. Focus, pay attention to what your partner is really saying, and listen objectively. Don’t offer advice if it’s not asked for. Often we don’t want a solution, just an ear.
Don’t forget to touch. Physical touch is important and not just in an intimate way. Holding hands, a hug, or a touch on the shoulder are all very simple ways to remain connected in a relationship. Don’t worry about feeling silly. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years, it’s still important to show affection to your partner.
Consideration is simple really. Just be nice. It’s just that basic. Think about how you treat your friends and others you care about. Show the same kindness and consideration to your partner. It’s all too easy for us to use our partner as a punching bag to take out all of our frustrations on. That’s not fair, and it doesn’t lead to a strong, lasting relationship.
Do something nice occasionally to show that you care. The small things make a difference and it’s not just about flowers and candy. Leave a note; open the door, call just to say you’re thinking about each other. Express appreciation for the nice things your partner does for you. Instead of just pointing out where they are falling short, point out where they are stepping up to the plate. It doesn’t hurt to be polite, pay a complement, or offer a smile. “Please” and “thank you” never go out of style.
Show respect for one another. Don’t criticize or undermine your partner in front of others. Be respectful even when you disagree. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings. Don’t dismiss their thoughts and opinions just because they’re different from yours. It’s not just about you. A relationship is about two people supporting each other. Be kind and offer encouragement where it’s needed. Most important learn to forgive. We’re not perfect. We’re just trying to do the best we can and we will make mistakes. Don’t hold on to leftover resentments and hurts. Baggage just weighs a relationship down. Something to consider – if the missteps are too serious to forgive, then end the relationship, otherwise forgive and move on.
Maintaining your own sense of individuality is just as important as relationship cohesiveness. We each need time and space to be ourselves. If we try too hard to merge every aspect of ourselves into this single relationship entity, we end up losing ourselves in the process and that leads to friction and resentment in the relationship. It’s important to have some separate interests. Of course, it’s important to spend time together, just not every second. Sometimes we just need time to be alone or to connect with other friends or family. Spending too much time apart can be bad, especially if the other partners needs are neglected, but don’t smother each other. There needs to be a balance between couple time and individual time.
No relationship can sustain itself without trust and honesty. Integrity is an integral part of a healthy and lasting relationship. You have to be able to trust one another to be honest and faithful. If you can’t trust your partner, you shouldn’t be in the relationship. Honesty is critical. You have to be able to tell the truth and be who you really are. Remember the old saying, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” It’s still true. It’s also extremely important to take responsibility for your part in the relationship. When you do something wrong or hurtful, admit it and take responsibility.
Accept your partner for who they are. Don’t try to change them. It’s not going to happen. Moreover, don’t nag them about the parts of them you don’t like. We are never going to like everything about our partner or they about us. All those little things you found so adorable when you were first dating, you now find annoying. That’s normal when two people are in a long-term relationship. If you can’t accept them, flaws and all, then you can’t have a happy and satisfying relationship.
Stop trying to “parent” your partner. Don’t try to make your partner behave the way you want them to. You are both adults that are perfectly capable of making your own decisions about how you want to live. Nobody wants to be told what to do all of the time like a small child. You are partners, not parent and child. You can and should offer opinions, but not orders. “You really shouldn’t do that” “You need to…” and “That’s not the right way to…” are the hallmarks of a relationship where one partner is attempting to control the other. This leads to an unhealthy relationship where one partner becomes insecure and meek or rebellious and defensive. Neither is good and will not lead to a lasting relationship.
If you want to have a lasting relationship, you have to learn to compromise. The difference between a doomed relationship and a lasting one is often that there is an attitude of cooperation rather than competition. Look for a win-win solution. You can’t always be right. Listen to each other’s viewpoints and needs, then try to reach an agreement that satisfies both of you. You have to be willing to give a little and don’t insist on getting your way all of the time. In a lasting relationship, sometimes wanting your partner to be happy is more important than being right.
It sounds silly but most couples who have managed a long and happy relationship say that a sense of humor is the most important relationship secret. You need to be able to laugh at yourself and each other. This is not the same as ridicule and embarrassment; this is being able to see the silliness of some of the strange things we say and do. Being able to find humor in the difficult parts of relationships and life, allow us to be a little bit lighter and a little bit happier.
The secrets to a fulfilling and lasting relationship are really common sense when you think about it. It’s all of those things we know but have not applied. Connect and spend time together. Talk and listen. Be kind and respectful. Be yourself and encourage your partner to do the same. Be honest and trustworthy. Accept your partner flaws and all. Don’t try to mold them into who you want them to be. Learn to compromise instead of insisting on being right. Most of all learn to laugh and have fun. If you don’t enjoy being together, why are in the relationship in the first place?