Developing a lasting and passionate relationship so that you can grow old with your partner doesn’t really take a lot of effort if you know what you are doing. Here are 10 secrets of a lasting relationship that can make your love last a lifetime
1. Pay attention.
More marriages die of neglect than of irreconcilable differences. Relationships require ongoing maintenance in order to thrive. If yours isn’t thriving, it’s dying; there’s no middle ground. Many people take better care of their cars and trucks than they do their relationships. And although most of us wouldn’t think of driving 50,000 miles without changing the oil in our vehicle, we go months without saying “I love you,” going on a romantic getaway or simply taking a few hours to be alone together without any competing distractions. Relationships thrive when given adequate attention, but wilt like a dying flower when they’re neglected.
2. Address problems when they come up; don’t wait until later.
Waiting until you feel like dealing with problems isn’t a good idea. Problems generally don’t get easier to deal with over time; they get harder. While breakdowns and disappointments are inevitable in all relationships, they don’t necessarily lead to trouble. Acknowledging and addressing difficulties early on, rather than waiting for things to get worse, can make a world of difference. Pain denied is pain prolonged.
3. Take care of yourself.
The best gift that you can give a partner is your own well-being. The more healthy, happy, and fulfilled you are, the more you have to offer. Taking care of yourself involves more than what you eat and how much you exercise; it also includes the responsibility to know what nourishes your soul and spirit and seeing to it that you bring those experiences into your life. Even long-standing patterns of self-sacrifice and resentment can dissolve when we honor a commitment to our own self-care.
4. Learn to appreciate the differences.
In relationships, differences are inevitable; conflict is optional. When opposites attract, it’s because they each have something to offer that the other lacks. We seek out others not despite our differences, but because of them. Yet the differences can devolve into conflict when we try to coerce others to agree with us rather than appreciating the value of the unique gifts and perspectives we each bring. This is often easier said than done, but it’s a powerful antidote to conflict. “Vive la difference!”
5. Take time to make love.
One of the first expectations of a distressed marriage can be a diminished frequency of sexual activity. For some reason, couples that once thrived on passionate lovemaking are often willing to tolerate a desert of physical intimacy. Great sex is more than just an experience of sensual pleasure. It’s a means through which we delight in each other’s bodies, give expression to our desires, show our love, and share the joy of losing ourselves in bliss. If the flame of sexuality is neglected too long, the spark may go out. Don’t wait until the embers are cold; talk about what you want and what’s missing — and keep playing.
6. Don’t take your relationship for granted.
There’s no such thing as a divorce-proof marriage. If you think your relationship is so perfect that divorce isn’t even a possibility, think again: This belief can lead to a kind of complacency. While this may not always lead to divorce, it can lead to something equally dangerous — a flat or stagnant relationship. Staying together isn’t the goal of a great marriage; thriving is. Thriving means never taking each other for granted and continually expanding our capacity for joy, love, and growth. It’s a lifetime process, and the more you do it, the easier it gets.