All intimate relationships are built on a foundation of honesty, trust, and attraction, but what do happy couples do differently to keep their love thriving in the long run?
It’s important to understand that love is not just about finding the right person, it’s about working with them to create the right relationship. Marc and I have met and worked with couples at all ends of the spectrum over the years, and we’ve found that the happiest couples, or the unhappy couples who successfully turn things around, are able to create loving, lasting relationships by doing the following:
1. They make plenty of time for each other.
Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than malicious abuse. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with someone than simply being there for them. Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused. Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring – one which has the potential to turn a relationship around.
When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger. This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.
Bottom line: Stay in close touch with what’s going on in your partner’s life – communicate openly on a regular basis. Not because it’s convenient, but because they are worth the extra effort.
2. They don’t beat around the bush.
No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it. When you truly love someone, be loving in words and deeds every single day. Don’t beat around the bush. Be straightforward.
If you appreciate someone today, tell them. If you adore someone today, show them. Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone. There might not be a tomorrow. Today is the day to express your love and admiration.
3. They meet in the middle and work together.
The most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting your partner half way. You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than working alone or against them. That’s what healthy relationships are all about – teamwork. It really is a full circle. The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship.
Anyone who helps you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion, love and teamwork, is a precious friend and teacher, and thus makes a great partner. Take the lead and BE this partner. Make an effort to work closely with your significant other, and conquer the world together.
4. Their actions consistently backup their claims of love.
Actions often speak much louder than words. When you love someone you have to act accordingly. They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.
You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere.
And remember, it’s not so much about how much you do for your loved ones as it is about the love you put into what you do for them. Learn what matters most to them and make a habit of it.
5. They respect each other’s humanness.
All humans are imperfect. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the knowledgeable second guess what they know.
And guess what? You’re human and so is your partner. In fact, we all are. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we spin out of control sometimes.
But that’s the worst of it; we all have our moments. Most of the time we’re remarkable. So stand beside the people you love through their trying times of imperfection, and offer yourself the same courtesy; if you aren’t willing to, you don’t deserve to be around for the perfect moments either.
6. They focus on what they like about each other.
What you focus on grows stronger in your relationships. When you focus on a person’s wonderful qualities, you have a wonderful relationship with them. When you focus on a person’s not so wonderful qualities, you have a not so wonderful relationship with them. When you focus on benefits of a situation, you get to take advantage of them. When you focus on the drawbacks, you gain nothing but a frown.
The bottom line is that you see only what you want to see, and what you see determines the health of your relationships. Your attitude is a little thing that makes a massive difference. Don’t be the stubborn one who makes it a point to not see the good in your partner.
7. There is far more between them than physical attraction.
Infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favorite food based on color instead of taste. It makes no sense. It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction. There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on life.
Just as some people enjoy the smell of mint, while others prefer the scent of cinnamon, there is an undeniable, magnetic draw that attracts you to the qualities of certain people, places, and things. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very hinges that hold you together in the long run.
8. They resolve conflicts through love, not retaliation.
If you’re disappointed with yourself or frustrated with your partner, the answer is not to take it out on the world around you. Retribution, whether it’s focused on yourself or others, brings zero value into your life. The way beyond the pain from the past is not with vengeance, mockery, bullying or retaliation, but with present love.
Forgive the past, forgive yourself, forgive your partner, and love the present moment for what it’s worth. There are plenty of beautiful things to love right now; you just have to want to see them. Loving is never easy, especially when times are tough, yet it is easily the most powerful and positively enduring action possible.
9. They open up to each other, especially in trying times.
Let your partner in when you’re in a dark place. Open up to them completely. Don’t expect them to solve your problems; just allow them to face your problems with you. Give them permission to stand beside you. They won’t necessarily be able to pull you out of the dark place you’re in, but the light that spills in when they enter will at least show you which way the door is.
Above all, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone. No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, your partner is in your life and has dealt with similar emotions and wants to help you. When you hear yourself say, “I am alone,” it’s just your insecurities trying to sell you a lie.
10. They are committed to growing together.
It’s not about finding someone to lose yourself in, it’s about meeting someone to find yourself in. When you connect with someone special, especially a lifelong partner, this person helps you find the best in yourself. In this way, neither of you actually meet the best in each other; you both grow into your best selves by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.
When you honestly think about what you and your partner add to each other’s lives, you will often find that instead of giving or taking things from each other (advice, answers, material gifts, etc.), you two have chosen rather to share in each other’s joy and pain, and experience life together through good times and bad. No matter what, you two are there for one another, growing and learning as one.
The best relationships are not just about the good times you share, they’re also about the obstacles you go through together, and the fact that you still say “I love you” in the end. And loving someone isn’t just about saying it every day, it’s showing it every day in every way.
Read more: Marc and Angel