Here are some useful tips how to make your long-term relationships work:
Good/open/honest communication and a willingness to change. This happens with practice. It means you don’t judge or feel judged by your partner. You’ve developed good listening and speaking skills. Both partners trust each other and know they can talk to each other about anything. It means the willingness to work on your own issues and make changes in yourself if necessary.
- Knowledge that a relationship takes hard work and laughter. The healthiest and longest lasting relationships don’t just happen because a couple fell in love. A relationship of longevity is made up of hard work. A relationship needs daily nurturing, not taking each other for granted, and dealing with both the hard and easy issues together. It takes consciousness and caring about yourself and your partner. It requires discipline, dedication, and determination, mixed with fun and laughter. The better the balance between hard work and fun, the better chance that your relationship will last. Take yourself seriously but not so seriously that you can’t also laugh at yourself.
- Respect for one another. In a strong long term relationship, each partner remembers that their partner is a human being whom he/she fell in love with. It’s easy to feel disrespect for your partner when you disagree and he/she makes you angry. Disagreements don’t mean that your partner suddenly became a “bad” human being. The golden rule should always apply in a long term relationship. It simply means you need to respect yourself enough to respect your partner’s feelings, failings, foibles, and humanness. Most of the time mistakes are made not to hurt another person, but because we’re human. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t stop respecting yourself or your partner just because you slip up.
- Ability to “nip problems in the bud.” At the first sign of conflict or an argument, take immediate steps to resolve the disagreement. If you don’t, it will grow bigger each time you fight. Nip the argument in the bud by trying to understand the conflict and then talking about it. Learn good negotiating and problem-solving skills. Nothing is too small to ignore in the realm of conflict. The origin of huge conflicts, are really the smaller arguments that never get resolved. Small conflicts can be easy to deal with, and can actually create closeness. Huge ones are difficult to deal with and can lead to separation and/or divorce.
- Cultivate a deep friendship as the foundation for your love to grow. Make your partner your best friend. Relationships that last are made up of two people that love each other and really LIKE each other. Love needs a strong foundation on which to flourish. Treat your partner like you would a friend. It is this companionship that deepens a long term relationship. If you don’t know how to respond to your partner, ask yourself, “If this was my best friend, how would I respond?” You’d probably be supportive, understanding, empathetic, honest, and caring. We forget that our partners are our friends, too, and we owe it to ourselves and our partner to treat them with dignity and compassion.
- Creative ways to keep the intimacy alive. Intimacy means being close to your partner, enjoying each other’s company, sharing, and figuring out what makes you and your partner happy. Don’t lose touch with each other just because you’re both busy. If your sex lives are dwindling or you’re losing the desire, rule out any medical issues with your doctor, and then get busy by educating yourself to find ways to rekindle the flame. Don’t ignore the issues! Talk about them and remember that things won’t get better on their own. Most importantly, keep learning and growing as an individual so you stay interested in your own life and in your partner’s life. Take each other’s needs seriously and figure out ways to be there for your partner.