We all work hard to find the one; the person who completes us. But then what? We live happily ever after in a blissful state of union, of course. This is what we’ve learned from fairytales and Hollywood. I hate to burst your bubble… but life can be messy and even great relationships have challenges at different times.
Whether you’re married or in a long-term relationship how do you ensure your love endures a lifetime? We have some tips that are essential to maintaining an amazing, healthy relationship that stands the test of time.
1. Get to know yourself. The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. How can someone else know you if don’t know yourself? We love personality tests and some of our favorites are below with links to FREE tests.
Enneagram Test has nine different personality types to help you understand yourself better and encourage personal growth.
16 Personalities is based upon Myers-Briggs with 16 personality profiles that provide a description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.
2. Get to know your partner. We mean really get to know your partner. Their authentic, true self. We highly encourage you both to take the personality tests together and compare results. This makes a great date night, too.
Another resource for connection is Intuitive Development. We’ve taken every class at Intuitive Development and there are two classes we highly recommend. The first is Understanding Emotional Patterns to learn how to manage conflict resolution by identifying your emotions. The other is Defining Bottom Lines with an emphasis on how communication is the cornerstone of all successful relationships. You will also identify your bottom lines and determine the most important elements for you in a relationship. Identifying these things for yourself will provide clarity and more stability in your partnership.
3. Learn your love language. Do you know yours? (Find it out here.) Based on the book by Gary Chapman, the 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. Most people enjoy many of these in a relationship but we all have a primary love language that fills up the emotional bank account. We are all usually very good at demonstrating our own love language. For example, my love language is Words of Affirmation so I’m usually good at writing love notes, text messages, or verbally telling my partner Marty how much he means to me.
Marty’s primary love language is Acts of Service. So he is always doing things for me like getting me coffee in the morning or calling me on his way home to see if I need anything. While I love the things he does for me and he appreciates my generous words of how amazing he is, we both long for love to be expressed to us in our Love Language. With this awareness, we are both able to reciprocate in our partner’s primary love language. This enhances our relationship immensely.
Shiloh Stanfield Lite Photography
4. Know how to communicate properly. In her book, “Hold Me Tight,” Dr. Sue Johnson talks about her work utilizing Emotionally Focused Therapy (“EFT”). She reveals how our communication can either push us apart or bring us closer together.
For example, if your partner says ‘you really pissed me off,’ more than likely this will cause a fight or flight scenario. It will certainly not bring you closer together. However, by determining the underlying reason for the anger and then communicating the issue to your partner in a softer more loving way, that will allow the message to be heard and received better. By digging deeper and working together, we can communicate what really caused the anger that typically has an underlying feeling of hurt and being unlovable. Sharing these feelings together will likely draw you closer together instead of further apart.
5. Develop common interests. While it’s okay to each have your own activities and hobbies you may do alone or with friends, it’s also imperative to have things you do together. One of our favorite rituals is reading the daily message in the “Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. We also take regular walks or bike rides together in the morning. Find some regular activities that you enjoy doing together; maybe take a dance class together or our new fave activity, AcroYoga.
6. Go on date nights — you can’t have too many. Especially if you’re a parent, it’s vitally important to make time for yourself and as a couple. Remember to be an example to your children of what a great relationship looks like. We can’t stress this enough.
We also recommend the Surprise Date Challenge. Plan just one surprise date for your partner once a month for three months. EFT therapist Dr. Lisa Gold shared that most of her clients have forgotten how to have fun together. Having fun connects you as a couple. You are reminded why you fell in love with your partner all over again.
7. Show gratitude for the little things. We can easily take things for granted that our partner says or does for us. When Marty started bringing me coffee every morning and turning on my work computer I was smitten. However, since he’s been doing this for over a year now it’s easy for me to transition this to an expectation that he’ll do this for me every morning rather than a kind gesture. Be sure to acknowledge the things your partner does for you, even if they’ve been doing it for years. Try to see your love with fresh eyes every day.
While relationships are work they are so rewarding when you are in a good one. Our hope is that you have an amazing relationship that will last a lifetime and that you never settle for one that’s just good enough.
This story originally appeared on Mom Nation AZ