Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. We were together four years before marriage so that is twenty-two years with the same man. To some that may seem like an eternity, to others it is merely a drop in the bucket.
For some people relationships seem effortless. For others, relationships are tricky and confusing and never seem to work out.
Why do some relationships go the distance and others fizzle out? It is hard to say because no two relationships are the same. Some people desire a long term committed relationship while others run for the hills at the mere thought of it.
For most, falling in love is the easy part, staying in love requires some work. If you don't put in enough work the relationship will likely fail. Both parties have to want the same thing.
If it requires too much work, it's no longer fun and not worth the required effort. Finding a balance where you are still having fun but keeping things in check is the key.
In honor of my 22 years in a loving, committed relationship I have gathered 22 tried and tested tips to keeping a relationship strong. Follow these and your relationship will surely have more ups than downs.
1. Tell your partner you love them. Seems obvious but people want and need to hear it. Often.
2. Try to see things from your partner's perspective. Put yourself in yourself in their shoes - they have a reason for seeing things differently than you. It does not mean one of you is right and the other is wrong. Just try to see their point of view.
3. Choose your battles. You do not need to argue over everything. You do not always have to be right, just let some things go. And when you do, do not make a big fuss about how you are willing to concede.
4. Communicate with each other. Unless your partner has ESP, you have to say what is on your mind. Do not expect them to know what you are thinking.
5. Give each other space. No matter how close you are, do not lose your individual identities. Spend time with your own friends and have your own hobbies.
6. Trust each other. Do not give your partner reason not to trust you.
7. Stand by each other, support each other. Tough times will happen and you will need to lean on each other, be there.
8. Date each other. This is especially true if you have been together for years, have raised children, and have settled into routines. You need to rediscover each other.
9. Complement each other. Everyone wants to hear they still look good to their partner.
10. Forgive each other. This can be hard sometimes but when you hold a grudge you not only hurt the relationship, you hurt yourself.
11. Respect your partner. If you do not respect your partner you really do not have much of a relationship.
12. Laugh. A lot. Life can get so serious sometimes and becomes easy to take the stress out on your partner. Bills, kids, works, stress. Don't forget to laugh...laugh about all of the seriousness. Poke fun at yourselves.
13. Listen. Just be the shoulder to cry on, the person they can vent all their frustrations too. You don't have to solve all their problems, but just being there to hear them is so helpful.
14. Give gifts. Little gifts every now and then to let the other person know you are thinking about them can go a long way.
15. Support each other. People change over the years, support your partner if they want to try something new. Trying to keeping everything the same is fear-based and will back-fire in the long run.
16. Accept them as they are. Don't try to change your partner. You aren't perfect so don't expect them to be either.
17. Do not focus on their faults. We are drawn to certain people for a reason. They can teach us what we need to help us learn and grow. If something really annoys you about your partner, it is likely because it something you need to work on about yourself. The problem is probably not with them, it's with you. Check yourself.
18. Get away. Take vacations or mini overnight getaways, just the two of you.
19. Show appreciation. We fall into patterns and it becomes easy to take for granted what people do. Someone is mowing the lawn, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, getting the oil changed. Take time to notice and say thank you.
20. Get physical. Be intimate with each other, but also spend time holding hands, giving backrubs or foot massages. Hug each other. Physical touch is important, and as relationships age, it's easy to forget this.
21. Do not be selfish. Know what is important to your partner and make sure you are meeting their needs.
22. Do not be a martyr. Know what is important to you and speak up. Ask for what you need.
"There's no substitute for a great love who says, 'No matter what's wrong wtih you, you're welcome at the table." ~ Tom Hanks
To me, love is the most important thing there is. Cherish those you love, work it out. And when you can't work it out, don't hold resentment. There are certainly disfunctional relationships and in those cases sometimes it's better to walk away. Go in peace.
If relationships are an area you struggle with and you are ready for a change please contact me for a complimentary consultation.