There have been a stockpile articles written about how to have a successful long-term relationship marriage, but none that seem to capture some of the core ingredients I’ve found important in relationships. So here’s the straight dope, hit the jackpot now.
Before I start, however, it’s necessary to dispel a usual relationship myth — relationships are (or should be) easy. That is simply not true. The grass always looks greener in other people’s lives, because few people share the truth of the amount of work that goes into relationships (hence why 50% of marriages end in divorce). Relationships — even the best relationships in the world -require constant attention, nurturing, and work. If you can understand and accept the need for constant attention and work in your relationship, you’re started in the right direction.
Relationships are about not only taking, but also giving. If you find yourself not giving very much, or feeling resentful of how much you give and how little you receive back, you may be in an unequal relationship where one side is taking more than they are giving.
For example, couples sometimes mistakenly believe that “love” will help them deal with any issue that comes up, and that if the other person truly loved you, they would just do as you ask. But people are independent with their own unique needs and personalities. Just because we found someone we want to spend our lives with doesn’t mean we give up our own identity in the process.
Relationships live and die not by the sword, but by the amount of discussion. If two people can’t find a way to openly and honestly interact their needs , thoughts and feelings to one another, the relationship doesn’t stand much of a chance long-term. Couples must find a way to interact regularly, openly, and directly with each other.
Choose your warfare carefully
After marriage or when two people move in together, couples tend too observe pretty much the same thing no matter who they are – that they are two opposite people and living together is rocky than anyone ever told them. Love master a lot of things, but it is no match for living day-in and day-out with another human being (especially if you’ve spent years on your own).
Strengthen yourself for this test by choosing what quarrel you want to turn into a full blown battle. For example, do you really want to start a fight over the toothpaste cap or how clean the bed-sheet is? Or would you rather reserve your energy for the discussions over finances, kids, and career paths (you know, the things that might really matter to a person). Too many couples fight and bicker over the dumbest things, especially when put into context of issues of true importance.
Don't bury your needs
Sometimes when we enter into a long-term relationship, we put ourselves second, behind the other person’s needs and desires. We might give up working to have a child, or agree to move to another city to help support our significant other’s career. And that’s fine, but you need to be sensible first with yourself about whether such things really matter to you or not. If they do, you need to find a way to communicate such needs with your partner, and trade-off where possible.
Two people will rarely have exactly the same wants and desires out of life — that’s just a fantasy. Instead, expect that sometimes your two paths will diverge. Express your needs at those vital moments, but always find a way to do so respectfully and with an open mind.
Don’t underestimate the value of trust and honesty
Different people have different areas of concern, but almost everyone values trust and honesty from their partner above all. Why? Because your partner is the one person you want to be able to depend upon in the long-term, without question or doubt.
Little things where your significant other hasn’t been completely honest shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, because virtually everybody tells little white lies (especially when one is dating). Focus instead on the big things, like if they say they’re a lawyer and you discover they’ve never even passed the bar, or they say they like kids but later on insist on never having one.
So if you’re up for it and follow these tips, you’ll be on a road to having a more successful relationship or marriage. But remember — it takes two to tango. Share these with your significant other or spouse and use it as an opportunity to begin the conversation of your life.