As discussed in the post Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts, all relationships should be maintained to keep them fresh and mutually beneficial. Modern times are busier and more unpredictable than ever and sometimes relationships can suffer as life flies by (see Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates). In the next two posts, we’ll examine six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. Are you doing the right things in your relationship?
1. Show your gratitude
Be gracious for the things your partner does for you and never take anything for granted. Appreciate even the small things. As a thought experiment, imagine waking up tomorrow and not having your partner there. How would you feel? Think about the things your partner does for you or provides for you and your relationship. What would you miss? If you appreciate them, a few words of thanks go a long way. Tell them – or better still, show them – how you feel. For tips on how to do this, have a look at 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner. This is also a good opportunity to thank other loved ones in your life: your friends and family. Too many people leave it until the last minute – or until it’s too late – to tell the special people in their life that they are appreciated, and regrets like these can last a lifetime. It can be awkward at first – many of us are not confident or comfortable expressing our feelings – but start with something simple (thanks for a meal, for example) and work your way up to feelings of more substance.
2. Encourage your partner
Encourage your partner’s pursuits, hobbies or interests: the things that make your partner happy. As long as their interest does not harm others (or themselves), and keeps them happy/amused/sane, then you should proactively support their pursuit of happiness. Make them feel supported, and help them maintain their own individuality (see Maintain individuality in Part 2). We should all encourage each other to pursue happiness in our own unique way, express ourselves, and enjoy the journey of life, which can be harsh and challenging. Feeling supported and encouraged makes us feel safe, loved and important – no matter what life throws at us.
3. Tolerate their flaws & habits
You must be able to tolerate character flaws and bad habits – everyone has them, this is part of human nature (again, as long as these aren’t harming them or others). I had an ex-cricket team-mate who couldn’t be around his wife when she made a cup of tea or coffee because the rattle the spoon made when stirring her tea irritated him so much. This is something I’d suggest to tolerate. Guys, for example (in general), have a lower standard for cleanliness and organisation than girls do. We must tolerate and understand that these small differences exist. I, personally, have learnt to leave the toilet seat down. The benefits of doing so outweigh the effort required to put the seat back down after I’m done. With tolerating behaviour, remember the saying “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff“. Think about the things you and your partner might argue about – are they really that important? For the bigger issues – these can be financial, job- or career-related, or to do with another interpersonal relationship – it is important that you communicate with your partner about the issue. The smaller issues – dirty clothes on the floor, leaving things in what you deem to be their ‘incorrect’ location – can be sorted out with some compromise from both sides. For the perpetrator, can you make a slight modification in the habits or behaviour that annoys your partner without too much effort? For the annoyed party, can you see past and accept your partner’s ‘misbehaviour’?
Be sure to read the second part of this post, 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2, which examines the second three of six secrets, and summarises what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.
What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?