Have you been successful in creating a long-term, fulfilling relationship?
We all lack relationship experience when we are young and may have to be in a few relationships to gain insight into navigating them. If you are struggling to create a lasting, loving relationship, these five tips will give you the skills you need so you can stop the disappointment and heartache of having relationships end with people you care about.
In order to create a loving, healthy relationship you must be strong in qualities of communication, commitment, respect, trust and love. These skills can all be learned and adopted, even if you did not have good relationship role models growing up.
Communication is the number one complaint I hear from thousands of couples who have sought relationship counseling from me. In order to be a competent communicator, you must be approachable and a good listener. It is important to use words that strengthen your relationship and are not blaming or accusatory, causing your partner to become defensive. Your partner may forgive you for what you say, but he/she won’t easily forget, so being intentional about choosing words that promote closeness is key for diminishing arguments. Couples who have practiced listening to each other for up to 60 seconds before responding to their loved one have reported to me that they feel heard and seen in the relationship and find it easier to communicate with their partner.
Commitment is the super glue that keeps your relationship together through the storms of parenting, in-laws, career changes, financial difficulties, loss and struggles. Making a decision to stay and problem solve is key to creating a long-term, meaningful relationship with your partner. Adopting the mind set of, ‘What is a solution to this problem,’ rather than avoiding, continuing to argue or leaving when you have differences in perspectives is paramount to receiving the benefits of a partnership you enjoy being in. Couples who have practiced working out their differences gain problem solving skills and tolerance for different personality types, as well as changing flawed traits in themselves. Couples who are committed to their relationship have reported to me that they notice more of a team effort and a giving of themselves, because they are not afraid their partner will leave them.
Respect is necessary for your partner to feel valued by you, lowering the chances for emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse, which can damage a relationship. Esteeming your partner in your interactions by being considerate and cooperating with his/her needs is vital to establishing a relationship where both people can blossom into their full potential as an individual and as a partner. Valuing yourself is a prerequisite to valuing your partner and a pathway to having respectful interactions. Couples who felt respected by their partner reported to me that they felt deeply cared about and were more inspired to be their best self.
Trust is tricky because the majority of people I talk to and counsel have been lied to, cheated on, or encountered broken promises by a loved one. These scenarios lead to trust issues, making it difficult to be in a relationship without a guarded heart. Building trust with your partner lets your partner know you are loyal to him/her, which makes it safe for him/her to give you his/her heart. Honesty, transparency, and making choices that benefit the relationship, not just yourself, all lead to creating a trusting relationship. Couples who trust their partner have reported to me that they feel safe being vulnerable and know their partner is dedicated to the best interest of the relationship.
Love is the powerful quality, sparking the reason to create a long-term relationship with a partner we desire. Love grows as you intentionally look for the good in your partner. To give love and be loved in return is a longing innate in each of us. The qualities of real love are defined in 1 Corinthians. Couples who practice these loving qualities below with their significant other reported to me that they grew to be a more loving partner and created a more loving relationship.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Love does not rejoice about injustices but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith,
Love is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The emotional and physical benefits of creating a long-term, fulfilling relationship are worth the work of becoming a skilled communicator, who perseveres through difficulties, while being respectful, trustworthy and loving. Building this with someone you deeply care about makes a relationship worth being in!
Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
Counselor and author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal for Couples