All lovers have their hard times, but after 30 years we know what it takes to survive.
My husband and I have been married for just over 30 years. We joke that we have been happy for most of them. But in reality, it hasn’t always been a bed of roses.
Couples fight; have different opinions and often, different goals. The secret to a successful relationship is to have shared values so that when you do disagree, you can work back toward center from opposite sides of a situation.
We have worked on many things over the years and we both know that it takes constant work and effort. I think anyone with a successful relationship will agree. So when we do disagree, we rely on a foundation of seven elements that keep our relationship strong.
1. Honor Your Differences
Respect is the cornerstones of our relationship. We may not always see things the same way, but we respect the ability to have different thoughts and ideas. We never put each other down to others or to each other. There is no faster way to erode a relationship.
2. Keep an Open Door Policy
Allowing your partner to share how they view and experience an event, and how they are feeling without judgment creates an environment of trust. As important as it is to share, it is just as important to listen and to really hear what the other is saying. This creates a healthy dialogue and a strong foundation.
3. Don’t Lose Yourself in the Relationship
You are your own person with your own feelings and thoughts. You had your own friends before you met. If you give them all up for your spouse or romantic partner, you are snuffing out part of who you are and you may feel resentment later. My husband goes bowling with his friends weekly. It’s his time to be away from “us” and hang out with his buddies. I enjoy time with my friends too and then we then look forward to being together as a couple even more.
4. Remember Who You Fell in Love With
Don’t try to change your partner to a version of them you think they should be. It is a lose/lose proposition. Not only is it not really possible, it causes resentment. Remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Honor that person. If someone has to bend over backward to make you happy, or you have to do it for them, your relationship has lost its authenticity.
5. Tickle Your Funny Bones
Laughter is a stress reducer and an energy infuser. Shared laughter can bond an experience and create great memories. My husband and I always look for little ways to make each other laugh. Humor in a relationship makes being together more enjoyable. When you are not together, thinking about a time when you were laughing and having fun will make you smile and feel closer to your partner.
6. Put Love on the Calendar
Date nights are important to keep a relationship fresh. It keeps a couple from stagnating with the same boring routine. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a special night together. It can be as simple as dinner and a movie at home, or going out, and can be elaborate as well if it fits your budget. What matters is scheduling it so you both have something to look forward to. We like to record our favorite shows during the week and watch them together. One night a week we plan dinner out. Phones and computers are put away! Keep the date on the calendar, get a sitter if you have kids, and bring on the romance and fun that is part of dating, no matter how long you have been together.
7. A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way!
Expressing gratitude to each other every day will keep you close. We share with each other at mealtime, telling each other something about our day that was special that we are grateful for. And we always try to notice the efforts the other made for us, even if it’s just doing the dishes, taking out the trash or washing the car. Showing appreciation for the little things that seem routine makes us look for ways to help each other out even more. Gratitude has a way of opening up your heart. Many of the things that may have annoyed us in the past aren’t even noticed anymore. That’s something to be grateful for!