The Key To A Successful Relationship
Most people would think of a healthy relationship as a lasting one, in which the partners believe they’ve found their soulmates and in which they’re willing to stick together through thick and thin. It’s a bond that defies time and space, that’s oblivious to hardship and blind to temptations.
At least, that’s what they make it out to be in books and on TV. But what books or reality shows won’t tell you is the effort, time and commitment that go into a long-lasting relationship. After all, each one is unique because it always brings two people with different backgrounds, culture, personality, upbringing, education, aspirations, and more, together on a shared path.
That variety and singularity is something you can’t capture in personal stories, though people tend to want to relate and find similarities with their own marriages and partnerships. Still, there are a few aspects that most successful relationships will logically have in common, and we’ve put together a list of ten to make your personal journey a little easier to cope with.
Everyone will tell you that two people need to have a good deal in common before they can commit. That may or may not be the case, but it certainly doesn’t explain why people choose to have relationships with someone they don’t even share a language with – not to mention religion, customs, physical traits, etc. It may be easier to find your lifetime partner right under your nose, and considering most people hardly spend 10 minutes a year outside of the 20 mile radius that they call their homeland, it seems much of this ‘common ground’ is down to logistics.
Whether or not people start with a common ground, and what circumstances led them to fall for each other, is beside the point, really. What matters is that they try to build their own historical record from then on. And that’s all about experiencing reality outside of their comfort zone with their partners, i.e. travelling. So, book those flights, and make sure you each have a say in where you go and where you stay.
2. Share Quality Time
If travelling isn’t an option, then there are various ways to spend time together on workouts, in classes, walking the dog, doing some voluntary work, collaborating on a project, or even playing board or video games. Don’t have the time? Make it! Yes life gets busy and stressful sometimes, but some quality time with your partner with strengthen your bond and show that you care enough about them to make the time to see them.
3. Put Them First
Sometimes it doesn’t always come naturally to put others first. We may be stuck in the mindset of someone who’s single, even though we’ve been in a relationship for years.
But there are ways to work around this with just a bit of effort. For example, try not to accept an invitation right away, even when you know your partner would be eager to accept. Instead, say you’ll check with her/him first. Don’t speak in both your names, don’t assume your partner will automatically accept every plan you make, and don’t make them out to be the bad guy if you have to turn down an invitation. Just be considerate of what they want, or what they’re thinking because both sides matter in a relationship.
4. Don’t Argue For The Sake Of It
Let’s face it, a spat now and then can be therapeutic. Even short public displays of disapproval and the odd slap on a wrist can be cute, particularly if you give your sarcasm a funny touch, but don’t overdo it. There’s no point in arguing about every little thing, especially in front of others.
However, when it comes to repetitive arguments on the same topic – the most annoying of all – something’s got to give, sooner or later. Either that, or one of you will be disgruntled forever and the other will be pretty smug about it for the rest of time. The best thing to do is to try to reach a consensus. Listen to what the other has to say and calmly discuss the issue with maturity and respect.
5. Be A Shoulder To Lean On
Frankly, if you’re not there when your partner needs you, at least in thought if not in flesh and bone, then what’s the point? People tend to remember those who’ve supported them through a rough patch, and they tend to expect their partner to be the lead figure in such a situation. Others instinctively turn to their parents or siblings, as they probably have for many years before you came along.
But this is your time to ‘shine’. Whatever your better half is feeling, you better be right there to offer support. If words are not your forte, then by all means, show that you care in other ways. Just hold their hand and be quiet. That’s all they really need from you. To be there for them.
6. Plan Your Family
Let’s face it, both partners need to be on the same page when it comes to having children, welcoming an elderly relative into the home, or just getting a hamster. Since partners can be in very different places in their careers, in their development plans or in their life paths (in terms of age, mostly), they may want different things at different times. As always, communication is key. Some of these conversations may be difficult but you just have to straight up go for it and remember to voice your opinion AND listen carefully to your partner.
7. Keep Relatives At Bay
You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and there’s hardly a relationship out there that doesn’t come with an intrusive mother-in-law, an opinionated brother, or an attention-starved cousin. When having such relatives around is damaging to your relationship – and you’ll know when that is the case because all the arguments seem to revolve around this person – it’s your duty to tell him or her to back off, as politely as possible.
When the intruder knowingly or unknowingly continues to make you or your partner uncomfortable, then don’t be afraid to take some steps in limiting the time you, as a couple, spend with him or her. Most of the time, it’s one of the mothers expecting her offspring to come drip some drops into her eyes at night, or a sister being a bit too pushy about what color she thinks you should paint your walls. Sometimes though, there are serious behavioural issues to deal with and you shouldn’t let pity or respect distract you from keeping your relationship healthy.
8. Plan For The Future
While some like to go where the wind takes them, others need to draw out a tangible plan. Having financial security, social stability, achievable milestones in place and the resources to reach them not only gives you peace of mind, but it can help the relationship last through an unexpected misfortune.
If you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you’ll probably want to plan for your retirement as well. To help plan for the future you may want to take a look at setting up a budget too.
9. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
When you’ve spent years and years beside your partner, you’d like to think you know them and what they want. But the reality is, people’s likes and dislikes will change throughout their lives. They’ll learn to love new things, just as they’ll start to associate long-time favorites with an unhappy occurrence.
So, try to put yourself in their shoes and to keep up with their whims. For instance, buy the gifts you definitely know your partner wants now, not what you’d like them to want. If you’re not sure, then come right out and ask.
At the same time, try not to put them in awkward situations. Be considerate and discreet, and try to look at things from their perspective.
10. Enjoy Your Privacy
Whatever age you are, and whether or not you live on your own, you’ll need space and privacy for your love nest. That may be a luxury for those who share their home with friends or relatives, and especially so if they have to care for an elderly family member. However hard it may be, it’s crucial that partners keep their love life private and kindled, and where possible, that they experience life as a couple, literally.