I recently had the pleasure of hanging out with several older couples at a friend’s anniversary party for her grandparents and we had a great conversation about what it takes to build and maintain a successful relationship over the years. Why do some couples stay together forever while some can only last a few years or less? No one has all the answers but I learned some great secrets from couples who had been married for decades. Here’s the basic secrets behind every successful relationship.
1. Think about them when you’re out. If you pass by their favorite bakery, pick up a little treat for them. If you’re at the store, stock up on some of their favorites. They’ll appreciate you remembered the little things they love.
2. Communicate and share what’s going on in your life. Instead of letting things build up, talk about it and address the issue as it comes up. Don’t wait until the negative feelings have festered. Clue them in as to why you might be a little bit more agitated this week (stressful deadlines, family problems, etc) or be open about why something in your relationship is bothering you.
3. Have your own life – your own likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. Your differences will give you something to talk about.
4. Don’t bring up old fights or issues that were otherwise resolved in a current and unrelated argument. This only builds resentment and anger.
5. Focus more on what they do right, instead of what they do wrong. Look for the positives instead of centering on the negatives.
6. Never go into a relationship thinking you can change who they are. This almost always ends up disastrous.
7. Make alone time with them a priority, regardless of what’s going on in your life. It can be easy to get caught up in work schedules, family obligations, or social engagements, but reconnecting through a busy week is crucial in maintaining happiness as a couple.
8. Send them little words of love. Even if it’s just a quick text wishing them a great day or checking in to see how a big meeting went, you can make their day a little brighter by showing them you care.
9. Find new reasons to fall in love with them. Maybe you fell in love with your partner initially because they always made you laugh and you had the same taste for spicy food and campy horror movies. Now, a little bit later in the relationship, you know them a lot better and your love for them is a lot deeper. Now you see how patient and calm they are in a crisis or you love the way they always make sure to go out of their way to help others. Remembering to see them in new ways will keep the spark alive.
10. Say yes more often. When your partner asks you to join them in an activity you wouldn’t normally care that much about, acknowledge their attempt in engaging you in something they enjoy, and be willing to share the moment with them. Maybe it means doing something with them today and knowing they’ll do something with you later on in the week. It’s all about give and take and taking notice when something is important to your partner they want to share with you.
11. Stop stacking up what you do vs. what they do. As much as we want to believe household duties should be equal, the truth is that’s just not how it is all the time. If your partner is having a particularly rough time lately or their boss at work is on their ass about something this week, give them a break and don’t guilt trip them because they haven’t done the dishes or laundry as often as you have. Pick up the slack when it’s needed and when you’re the one who needs more understanding about your lack of participation around the house, remember to show gratitude and words of appreciation along the way.