You’ve seen them – couples who have been together practically since the beginning of time… still as happy and in love as the day they were smitten with Cupid’s arrow. What is their secret? How do they stay together, and happy, while others fall apart?
Even the happiest couples have their ups and downs, but they also understand the secret recipe to “Happy Ever After.” All relationships take work, patience and a lot of forgiveness.
1. Accept your partner as he/she is. Respect him/her. Accept yourself as you are, and respect yourself.
Easier said than done! We all want to change others, to mold them in such a way that they fit our ideal. It does not work. Ever. The only person you can change is you! True love is when you accept your partner (and yourself), including the quirky habits and weird personality traits, as is. (Note: there’s a fine line between being accepting and being a doormat, though. Abusive behaviour is never acceptable – and never, ever take “I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am” for an excuse!)
Why do we find it so hard to love other people unconditionally, and accept them as they are? It’s because the fantasy in our heads does not match the reality (that you overlooked when you were first madly in love). As the first hot flame of passion fades, you have a choice: accept your partner as is, or try to change them. Only one choice leads to long-term happiness!
Just like you can’t expect your dog to be a cat or your cat to be a dog, don’t expect your partner to be anything other than what he or she is! Being valued for who you are creates an atmosphere of safety and security within a relationship.
2. Keep the lines of communication open and honest.
It’s essential that both of you are free to express your needs and wants! You can say difficult things kindly and respectfully, even though your partner may be hurt by what you say. And the reverse is true, too. You may hear things about yourself that sting, but if they are said in the spirit of love and compassion, you can take them as opportunities in improvement.
The art of communication involves:
● A willingness to be kind, understanding and respectful over being right.
● Listening with an open mind. As Marcus Aurelius said, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not a truth.” Your truth is not always your partner’s truth. Be willing to see their point of view!
● Communicating clearly, honestly and kindly.
3. Make quality time for each other.
Sitting together on the couch watching a movie doesn’t count. It’s nice, but I’m talking about doing something together. Interacting. Don’t drag your partner antique shopping if he hates it or to a football game if she hates it (sorry for the stereotypes). Find an activity you both enjoy and go do it. Set a date night, and avoid the dinner-and-a-movie trap.
4. Be your best.
As I mentioned, you are the only person you can change. Always strive to be the best partner you can be. We all have fantasies about our perfect partner – but how much effort do we spend becoming the perfect partner for our lover?
5. Share a dream.
Look beyond the daily grind to a dream life that the two of you can create and share together.
6. Keep the passion alive.
Make sex and intimacy a priority. Work on the act of seduction, stay interested in each other, make time for fun and keep reigniting that original spark.
7. Balance “me time” and “we time.”
Nobody wants to feel smothered, but being lonely in a relationship is equally bad. Make time for yourselves as a couple (no kids, no friends).
No relationship will ever be a fairytale, but if you follow the secret recipe to happy ever after, you can have a happy, fulfilling relationship that will stand the test of time!