Relationships, marriages – we all have them, but how do we keep them from falling through the cracks? Here are five strategies that you and your partner can focus on for maintaining not just a long-lasting relationship, but one that is fulfilling as well:
1. Take yourself back to the beginning of the relationship and what attracted you to each other in the first place. As life goes on and gets busy, we have a tendency to forget the wonderful qualities that our partners originally brought to the relationship and why we actually fell in love with them. Just by shining a new light on what made you fall in love, you can bring new focus to what you mean to each other.
2. As your relationship grows, and you build your lives together, it’s easy to start to focus on what you don’t have and what is not so great in your lives. Instead, keep the focus on what you do have, and what is working in your relationship. Direct your energies to opportunities you have together, common goals you share, and the life you have as a couple. By highlighting the positive aspects of your life together, material concerns will take back seat to your happiness, passion, and appreciation for one another.
3. In long-term relationships, and especially when children come along, remember to protect and nurture the girlfriend/boyfriend ingredient in your relationship. Remember how important romance and intimacy are as you build your partnership and become a permanent couple; they are the core strengths of your relationship. Build a little cocoon around you as a couple, and give top priority to your intimate health and well-being. One way you can keep the romance in your relationship is by scheduling date nights regularly – at least once a week. Better yet, spend good quality time together for a full day once a week, doing things you enjoy doing together and rekindling your love for one another. Even as you build a family, quality one-on-one time together will sustain your love.
4. Know your partner’s needs and jump through hoops to fulfill those needs. You did this naturally in the beginning of your relationship, but you may lose sight of this obligation as your lives get more complicated. Your partner’s needs will always be changing, so you will need to continually tune in to what’s going on in their life outside of your partnership, and what new needs they may be experiencing. Take into consideration that your needs will not always match your partner’s. Pay attention, read between the lines, and most important, communicate! Regularly ask your partner, “What can I do for you? How can I fulfill your needs? How can I help you and support you?” Be sure your partner still feels like number one.
5. Be your partner’s biggest fan! Cheer them on in all of their endeavors. Let them know that they’re in a safe place with you, where they can be themselves and grow as a person. We are often afraid of our own growth. And it’s also scary to watch a partner grow without us, because growth can mean changes in the relationship. Many of us settle for the status quo in our relationships, and often cling to a sense of certainty and to what’s familiar, because we are afraid of what change may bring. But change doesn’t have to be scary, and it certainly isn’t a negative thing – unless you view it negatively. If you love your partner and want them to be the best they can be, encourage their growth. When they are the best they can be, they will also be the best they can be toward you, and, of course, this works the other way around as well.
These foundational aspects of keeping your relationship fresh and vibrant may just mean that it lasts a lifetime. If it doesn’t, at least you will have the peace of mind that you gave it your best. Keep your relationship top priority in your life, and don’t forget to celebrate the magic and the romance, even after that first blush has passed!