13 Life-Changing Habits That All Successful Relationships Share

life changing habits that all successful relationships share

I’ve written for years that the key to happiness is not achieving your lofty dreams, or experiencing some dizzying high, but rather finding the struggles and challenges that you enjoy enduring.

A similar concept seems to be true in relationships: your perfect partner is not someone who creates no problems in the relationship, rather your perfect partner is someone who creates problems in the relationship that you feel good about dealing with.

But how do you get good at forgiving? What does that actually mean? Again, some advice from the readers:

– When an argument is over, it’s over. Some couples went as far as to make this the golden rule in their relationship. When you’re done fighting, it doesn’t matter who was right and who was wrong, it doesn’t matter if someone was mean and someone was nice. It’s over. It’s in the past. And you both agree to leave it there, not bring it up every month for the next three years.

– There’s no scoreboard. No one is trying to “win” here. There’s no, “You owe me this because you screwed up the laundry last week.” There’s no, “I’m always right about financial stuff, so you should listen to me.” There’s no, “I bought her three gifts and she only did me one favor.” Everything in the relationship is given and done unconditionally — that is: without expectation or manipulation.

– When your partner screws up, you separate the intentions from the behavior. You recognize the things you love and admire in your partner and understand that he/she was simply doing the best that they could, yet messed up out of ignorance. Not because they’re a bad person. Not because they secretly hate you and want to divorce you. Not because there’s somebody else in the background pulling them away from you. They are a good person. That’s why you are with them. If you ever lose your faith in that, then you will begin to erode your faith in yourself.

– And finally, pick your battles wisely. You and your partner only have so many fucks to give, make sure you both are saving them for the real things that matter.

“Been happily married 40+ years. One piece of advice that comes to mind: choose your battles. Some things matter, worth getting upset about. Most do not. Argue over the little things and you’ll find yourself arguing endlessly; little things pop up all day long, it takes a toll over time. Like Chinese water torture: minor in the short term, corrosive over time. Consider: is this a little thing or a big thing? Is it worth the cost of arguing?” – Fred

Related: 5 Forgiveness Exercises To Heal Emotional Wounds in a Relationship

10. The Little Things Add Up To Big Things.

“If you don’t take the time to meet for lunch, go for a walk, or go out to dinner and a movie with some regularity then you basically end up with a roommate. Staying connected through life’s ups and downs is critical. Eventually, your kids grow up, your obnoxious brother-in-law will join a monastery and your parents will die. When that happens, guess who’s left? You got it… Mr./Mrs. Right! You don’t want to wake up 20 years later and be staring at a stranger because life broke the bonds you formed before the shitstorm started. You and your partner need to be the eye of the hurricane.” – Brian

Of the 1,500 responses I got, I’d say about ½ of them mentioned at some point or another one simple but effective piece of advice: Don’t ever stop doing the little things. They add up.

Things as simple as saying, “I love you,” before going to bed, holding hands during a movie, doing small favors here and there, helping with some household chores. Even cleaning up when you accidentally pee on the toilet seat (seriously, someone said that) — these things all matter and add up over the long run.

The same way Fred, married for 40+ years, stated above that arguing over small things consistently wears you both down, “like Chinese water torture,” so do the little favors and displays of affection add up. Don’t lose them.

This seems to become particularly important once kids enter the picture. The big message I heard hundreds of times about kids: put the marriage first.

“Children are worshipped in our culture these days. Parents are expected to sacrifice everything for them. But the best way to raise healthy and happy kids is to maintain a healthy and happy marriage. Good kids don’t make a good marriage. A good marriage makes good kids. So keep your marriage the top priority.” – Susan

Readers implored to maintain regular “date nights,” to plan weekend getaways, and to make time for sex, even when you’re tired, even when you’re stressed and exhausted and the baby is crying, even when junior has soccer practice at 5:30 AM the next day. Make time for it. It’s worth it.

Oh, and speaking of sex…

11. Sex Matters…A Lot.

“And you know how you know if you or her are slipping? Sex starts to slide. Period. No other test required.” – Anonymous

I still remember back in college, it was one of my first relationships with a cute little redhead. We were young and naive and crazy about each other. And, because we happened to live in the same dorm, we were banging like rabbits.

It was everything a 19-year-old male could ask for.

Then after a month or two, we hit our first “rough patch” in the relationship. We fought more often, found ourselves getting annoyed with each other, and suddenly our multiple-times-per-day habit magically dried up. And it wasn’t just with her, but with me. To my surprised adolescent male mind, it was actually possible to have sex available to you yet not want it.

It was almost, like, sex was connected to emotions. For a dumb 19-year-old, this was a complete shocker.

That was the first time I discovered the truth about relationships: sex is the State of the Union. If the relationship is good, the sex will be good. You both will be wanting it and enjoying it. When the relationship is bad — when there are unresolved problems and unaddressed negative emotions — then the sex will often be the first thing to go out the window.

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Mark Manson

Mark Manson (born 1984) is a professional blogger, entrepreneur, and former dating coach. Since 2007, he's been helping people with their emotional and relationship problems. He has worked with thousands of people from over 30 different countries. He regularly writes and updates his blog at: www.markmanson.netView Author posts