Happily Ever After: 2 Do's & 4 No, No's of Successful Relationships
None of us is a stranger to relationship heartache.
But a few have figured it out.
What's their secret?
Relationships, and romantic relationships in particular, occupy a large portion of our lives. From puberty on, we struggle to find "the one"—a journey that has consumed much of our cultural and literary imagination.
Then, when we find them, we struggle to make them last. (There's a reason why fairy tales rarely talk about what "happily ever after" really means!)
A lot of people have written on this topic. We have heard everything from "keep dating your husband" to "match your love languages". There are a lot of secrets, tricks, and mainstream suggestions that it's hard to remember them all, much less practice them all effectively.
So, here are 2 Do's and 4 No, No's of healthy, successful, and lasting relationships:
- Appreciate your partner for who they are on their own and in relation to you; what they give and do for your, daily, and what they mean to you. Demonstrate your gratitude for this person in your life.
- Give Attention. This means you are alert and responsive to your partner and their needs, even if what they're talking about is boring you to death. It's not about you; it's about them. For example, your partner wants to show you something, do not ignore them, even if it seems trivial. It's not about the particular thing they're showing you, but about their need for you to pay attention to them.
In both of these instances, it is important to remember that ... words are important, but so is action; love is a noun, but also a verb. In other words, demonstrate attention and appreciation through constant and concrete action. (Yes, a hug is an action!)
Now, 4 No, No's:
- Do not criticize.
- Do not stonewall.
- Do not be defensive.
- Do not hold contempt.
While all of these are bound to appear from time to time, especially in lengthy relationships, happy couple's do not engage in them very often. And, when they do, they immediately take steps to remedy the situation, both internally (i.e. contempt is an internal experience) and externally (i.e. being defensive).
BONUS: Apparently, saying "Yes, dear!" a lot also helps!