Let’s face it – no perfect relationship exists! In actuality, for most of us in long-term relationships, our love and contentment ebbs and flows like the rise and fall of the ocean tides. And often, we struggle to hold entirely true to the Vows and commitments we make to one another during the creation of our initial love bubble. But that doesn’t have to be bad news! We can do lots of things to help ensure that our relationship stays strong and healthy, despite the inevitable stormy features of life.
Mind you, I certainly wouldn’t suggest you toss away your fantasies and dreams regarding romance! Rather, I simply encourage you to add in the following six ingredients to powerfully increase your odds for long-lasting love:
1. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind
While at times we can easily finish our partner’s sentences and believe we know everything about him/her, we can’t do this reliably most of the time. But we can learn what he/she likes/doesn’t like (e.g., favorite foods, places to travel, most relaxing activities, etc.) and stay curious about his/her ongoing fluidity of feelings and thoughts. Plus, we should practice open and honest communication about ourselves.
2. Boost your empathy
Empathy does not imply full agreement or sameness, but rather an experience of being able to put oneself in the other’s shoes and experience what your partner shares with you. This helps to keep the relationship gentle and loving.
3. We should never argue about our emotions
Instead, accept that feelings are just feelings, neither wrong nor right. However, we can disagree with another’s perception upon which the feelings are based, but not how we inevitably experience it emotionally. Understanding this concept will likely minimize intense fighting by decreasing the fear of being judged or rejected.
4. Practice fidelity at all costs!
While many couples can overcome the damage of a physical or emotional affair, in my experience, almost always a level of doubt lingers and full trust rarely ever returns!
5. Only make promises you can actually keep
At the risk of sounding cynical, many of the commitments we make to one another cannot be upheld – too many unknowns exist in everyone’s life. But we can promise to show up every day with positive intentions, to practice ongoing attention to building healthy communication skills, to work through conflict, and get rid of any resentment stored, etc.. So watch out for statements like “’til death do us part.” While you certainly might end up together forever – and I do hope you do – in case you have a change of heart along the way- you certainly don’t want to end up being a liar!
6. Learn the platinum rule
Most of us are taught to apply the golden rule which is to do unto others the way you would have them do unto you. The pretty good rule when you have limited information about the other person. But the platinum rule holds far more value. It says to do unto your partner the way your partner prefers/requests to be done unto (barring abuse, of course). For instance, if I feel loved by receiving a big bear hug whereas my partner feels loved by my giving him some space at the end of the day – then I need to learn to self-soothe sometimes when he needs space and he needs to give me a giant squeeze to show me the love.
Most importantly, share your love strongly, nurture one another with kindness and compassion daily, and give your partner love in a manner in which he/she receives it best!
Cheers to a long-lasting relationship!