Every relationship has its own story, and both of you probably feel fairly sure you know what works for now and what doesn’t. But keeping a relationship healthy in the long term requires more than great sex and the odd dinner out.
So, what are the deciders that keep a relationship growing and green? There are little things that harmonious couples do every day to keep their love and relationship in good shape. If you are ticking off most of these, you are well on your way to a fantastic, long-term future.
1. They never threaten to leave: This is a massive no-no. No one can feel trust, or secure in a relationship if they feel it could be pulled out from under them at a moment’s notice. Besides, it’s a teenager’s ploy — grow up!
2. They fight respectfully: Sometimes, it’s hard to keep your cool, but feeling that you can safely discuss feelings and issues with your partner is paramount, and you can only do this if you know they will react maturely. It goes both ways.
3. They don’t go in for drama: Soap operas are not real — they are not an excuse for us to behave the same way. Don’t create drama because secretly you are enjoying it — be honest about this. It’s damaging, so decide what do you really want: drama or a relationship that works?
4. They don’t do cold silences: Stonewalling is a mug’s game. You’ll achieve nothing out of it but distance and lost connection. No matter how hard it feels, talk to your partner.
5. They keep their end outcome in mind: Reminding yourself of what you want will help you to stay calm in the face of a fight. Is it important to you that you win the battle at the cost of the war? Remember what you are working towards and adjust all your interaction to suit — it’s the end result that counts.
6. They try to see things from each other’s point of view: You will never reach true understanding of another person if you don’t constantly try to see things through their eyes. Having an opinion different to yours does not make them wrong, just different.
7. They put aside time to connect: Quality time is a must. This doesn’t mean time to chat about work, other people or what’s on TV. It means to talk about you as a couple, take time to learn, listen and feel.
8. They take the time to let each other know they’re loved: We all need to hear it, and it can change your feelings in an instant to receive that little SMS saying that they love you. Do the same; it goes a long way.
9. They never willingly break promises: Relationships are founded on trust, and promises broken (however small) erode that trust. If you say you’ll take the garbage bins out, take the damn bins out.
10. They work to understand each other’s love language: You might communicate love by doing things for them, they might communicate love by telling you. Learning to understand this means that you will always be able to recognize when you are receiving love.
11. They appreciate the small things: Small, everyday gestures are the bedrock of a loving relationship. That morning cup of tea, the slight touch when you walk past. Take notice, and keep up your end of the deal.
12. They take an interest and give undivided attention: Don’t let preoccupation drive a wedge between you. We all get busy, so when you’re listening, really listen. Put aside your worries and hear what the other person is really saying for that five minutes they need you.
Choose to do them or not do them — you may feel your way works. But for longevity, these are the things that will enable each of you to keep your self-esteem, your identity and your respect for each other.