“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person.
And we are finally home.”
All intimate relationships are built on a foundation of honesty, trust, and attraction, but what do happy couples do differently to keep their love thriving in the long run?
It’s important to understand that love is not just about finding the right person, it’s about working with them to create the right relationship. Marc and I have met and worked with couples at all ends of the spectrum over the years, and we’ve found that the happiest couples, or the unhappy couples who successfully turn things around, are able to create loving, lasting relationships by doing the following:
1. They make plenty of time for each other.
Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than malicious abuse. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with someone than simply being there for them. Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused. Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring – one which has the potential to turn a relationship around.
When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger. This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.
Bottom line: Stay in close touch with what’s going on in your partner’s life – communicate openly on a regular basis. Not because it’s convenient, but because they are worth the extra effort.
2. They don’t beat around the bush.
No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it. When you truly love someone, be loving in words and deeds every single day. Don’t beat around the bush. Be straightforward.
If you appreciate someone today, tell them. If you adore someone today, show them. Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone. There might not be a tomorrow. Today is the day to express your love and admiration. (Read 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. They meet in the middle and work together.
The most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting your partner half way. You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than working alone or against them. That’s what healthy relationships are all about – teamwork. It really is a full circle. The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship.
Anyone who helps you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion, love and teamwork, is a precious friend and teacher, and thus makes a great partner. Take the lead and BE this partner. Make an effort to work closely with your significant other, and conquer the world together.
4. Their actions consistently backup their claims of love.
Actions often speak much louder than words. When you love someone you have to act accordingly. They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.
You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere.
And remember, it’s not so much about how much you do for your loved ones as it is about the love you put into what you do for them. Learn what matters most to them and make a habit of it.
5. They respect each other’s humanness.
All humans are imperfect. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the knowledgeable second guess what they know.
And guess what? You’re human and so is your partner. In fact, we all are. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we spin out of control sometimes.
But that’s the worst of it; we all have our moments. Most of the time we’re remarkable. So stand beside the people you love through their trying times of imperfection, and offer yourself the same courtesy; if you aren’t willing to, you don’t deserve to be around for the perfect moments either. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
6. They focus on what they like about each other.
What you focus on grows stronger in your relationships. When you focus on a person’s wonderful qualities, you have a wonderful relationship with them. When you focus on a person’s not so wonderful qualities, you have a not so wonderful relationship with them. When you focus on benefits of a situation, you get to take advantage of them. When you focus on the drawbacks, you gain nothing but a frown.
The bottom line is that you see only what you want to see, and what you see determines the health of your relationships. Your attitude is a little thing that makes a massive difference. Don’t be the stubborn one who makes it a point to not see the good in your partner.
7. There is far more between them than physical attraction.
Infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favorite food based on color instead of taste. It makes no sense. It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction. There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on life.
Just as some people enjoy the smell of mint, while others prefer the scent of cinnamon, there is an undeniable, magnetic draw that attracts you to the qualities of certain people, places, and things. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very hinges that hold you together in the long run.
8. They resolve conflicts through love, not retaliation.
If you’re disappointed with yourself or frustrated with your partner, the answer is not to take it out on the world around you. Retribution, whether it’s focused on yourself or others, brings zero value into your life. The way beyond the pain from the past is not with vengeance, mockery, bullying or retaliation, but with present love.
Forgive the past, forgive yourself, forgive your partner, and love the present moment for what it’s worth. There are plenty of beautiful things to love right now; you just have to want to see them. Loving is never easy, especially when times are tough, yet it is easily the most powerful and positively enduring action possible.
9. They open up to each other, especially in trying times.
Let your partner in when you’re in a dark place. Open up to them completely. Don’t expect them to solve your problems; just allow them to face your problems with you. Give them permission to stand beside you. They won’t necessarily be able to pull you out of the dark place you’re in, but the light that spills in when they enter will at least show you which way the door is.
Above all, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone. No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, your partner is in your life and has dealt with similar emotions and wants to help you. When you hear yourself say, “I am alone,” it’s just your insecurities trying to sell you a lie. (Read Daring Greatly.)
10. They are committed to growing together.
It’s not about finding someone to lose yourself in, it’s about meeting someone to find yourself in. When you connect with someone special, especially a lifelong partner, this person helps you find the best in yourself. In this way, neither of you actually meet the best in each other; you both grow into your best selves by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.
When you honestly think about what you and your partner add to each other’s lives, you will often find that instead of giving or taking things from each other (advice, answers, material gifts, etc.), you two have chosen rather to share in each other’s joy and pain, and experience life together through good times and bad. No matter what, you two are there for one another, growing and learning as one.
The best relationships are not just about the good times you share, they’re also about the obstacles you go through together, and the fact that you still say “I love you” in the end. And loving someone isn’t just about saying it every day, it’s showing it every day in every way.
The floor is yours…
In your experience, what helps create a happy relationship? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Candida Performa
Cheryl Powers says
I really like this article, and the previous one that this was linked from. I found it in search of quotes on happiness because on my 19th anniversary last week, my husband informed me that he wanted to divorce me a year ago. He’s never communicated his unhappiness, and never told me when things bother him. Instead he retreats. I’m trying to get the hurt, resentment and fear out of my heart/soul and also trying to learn all the things I did to push him away; mostly I shamed him for his choice to start a consultant business which requires him to be gone Monday through Saturday morning every single week of the past 16 years, after we bought a home and created a family. I still don’t know what will happen, but I’m trying to focus on me and being whole and happy regardless of what happens, and keeping it very casual and light with him as he said, “I still don’t know what I want to do yet.”
When is it appropriate to ask him to read something like this and think about it, when he refuses to go to counseling because “it won’t work” and also that every professional says not to look desperate and trying too hard? Thanks for your insights. At the least, I will work on correcting the things I know I did wrong – so I will be a better person, which should help any kind of relationship I’m a part of in the future.
I would love to know how you are doing 2 years later. I’ll bet you’re fabulous!
Your post is very wonderful and true too. I’ve been in a relationship for almost 3yrs now with an amazing guy.
Awesome post! I have the exact same encounter as Bebee. All my friends asks me not to go back to my ex-boyfriend. But when i decided to walk forward and move on, he comes back and says sorry and that he still love me, and i had the urge to stop and run back to him. But when i calm down and sees his actions and other stuff, i am totally furious. He likes this other girl and claims that he is just friends with her.
But i am quite determined that i am going to walk away from him. So this 10 precious tips from you both will make my next relationship a better one! Thank you!
Hi, it’s so nice to have read your article. I feel like there’s so much more that I can do in my own relationship.
But may I ask what should I do about long distance relationships? I’m currently in one, and my partner has been slowly changing. What should I do ?
I have saved these tips for my next relationship =) Lynne’s comments above really stood out to me. In my last relationship, I always felt like I was wasted on him. I felt like all that I had to offer was not appreciated by him. It hurt deeply. I’m affectionate, loving and supportive person but he was not able to reciprocate. He couldn’t tell me that he was proud of me. Instead, he would say that he wouldn’t be with me if he wasn’t. I was later told that not everyone can reciprocate feelings like that so I over-corrected (forgetting my self worth) and tried to get back with him.
Here are my thoughts, if you really need something from your partner and it is something that will feed your soul. Don’t settle. The pain of losing the relationship and seeing his true colors have left scars but they will heal. Knowing that he was the wrong man for me is the greatest gift!
Lynne – I know that what you did must have been very difficult but you are an amazing woman.
“It’s not about finding someone to lose yourself in, it’s about meeting someone to find yourself in.” excellent! absolutely excellent!
I especially love #6 – it is all about finding the good in my wife! She makes it so easy for me to do though!
” Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone. There might not be a tomorrow. Today is the day to express your love and admiration. ” So true. My marriage of almost 25 years ended because of misunderstanding and hurts that were allowed to linger, unaddressed, for all that time. I am happily married now, and we have resolved to be as straightforward as we can be with one another. That means expressing love with gusto, and clearing the air even when it’s scary or difficult. There are a lot of tears, sometimes….but so much happiness I can barely contain it all.
The only thing I would add is: Make sure both people support each others’ individuality as well. I don’t want him to give up hunting (something he loves), just because I would never do it. I also don’t see him spending hours reading, but he supports that I love doing it.
Find purpose in life. Find something that gives your life meaning. Set goals and move toward them in small reasonable steps and Be happy. Happiness is always a choice. Suffering comes from the meaning you give things. Be aware of this and you’ll spend much more time enjoying life and living life to the fullest and Don’t give up. Do not accept defeat, even if it seems like it’s the only option in life 4u.
Thanks for the terrific relationship-building reminders. I think number one, “They make plenty of time for each other,” may be the most important. After 33-years we have grown to be each other’s best friend. I see many couples around us constantly busy with friends and outside the home activities. Yet they seldom seem to spend one-to-one time. Heck, they even vacation in groups. Make it a ritual, spend lots of time with that special person in your life. Live, love, laugh!
When things get rough..my husband and I face each other. ..hold hands and recite “for richer or poorer…in sickness and in health”…It brings us back to why we CHOOSE to be together
Adebisi Adetunji says
Great post and a reminder of certain things i need to work on in my marriage. There are no easy answers at times when it comes to relationship matters but choosing to work at it can make all the difference. For me i get so mad at my husband sometimes then suddenly i remember that i actually still love him in spite of the hurt i am feeling at that point in time. So i steam and stew on for a while then when my temperature cools off…i find a way to work things out. Let me share a new slogan i just coined: “Settle this disagreement or dispute now so you can be ready to face another one” O yes…there will be many offense along the way but we get better each time. Thanks Marc and Angel for sharing this post.
We have been married 51 yrs. We never go to sleep without saying “I love you.’ We never air our differences, to others and never on social media.