Maintaining Long Term Relationships
Long term relationships are work. There is no doubt about it! Of course, with the right attitude, a willingness to do the work, and a partner who feels the same you can have a great long term relationship that takes you into the future. It isn't easy and there will be days when quitting seems easier then continuing on, but if you are serious and you want it enough you can work through these times.
The first key ingredient to maintaining a long term relationship is love. The big problem is that most people can't define love. They use it regularly and say a wide range of things with it such as, "I love you", "I am in love with you", and even "I fell out of love with you". The problem is that if you can't really define love then these sentences don't mean much. So, what is love?
Most people define love as a feeling. This is how they can love someone today and not tomorrow. This really doesn't work though. Love has to be something deeper then that. Emotions are fickle and can change in a heartbeat according to what is happening right now, but love for one another has to be something steady and strong. According to Paul Carlson (a life couch), "love means unconditional acceptance of that which you love." With this definition you can place a long term acceptance of your partner.
The second requirement for a long term relationship to survive is commitment. You have to be committed to your vows, your relationship, and your partner. This is what gets you through on the days you don't "feel" like you love your partner anymore. These days come, sooner or later as life hits. You have to remain committed in order to make it through.
It has probably been said a million times, but it is really important. Communication is a huge part of a good relationship. I recently read a comment about communication between husbands and wives where a guy said, "All we do is talk, talk, talk. It feels like we are talking our relationship to death." This is a dangerous place to be, but communication is still the key.
There are things that we have to learn to keep in mind when it comes to people of the opposite gender (or even people in general). Keeping these in mind often makes it easier for us to be patient with each other.
- We are all different. We communicate different. We have different strengths and weaknesses as well.
- Men, in general (not all), struggle to communicate verbally. It is hard for them to talk. It is also harder for them to listen.
- Women, in general (not all), like to talk too much. They can babble about things that don't seem important. They can also fall into habits of nagging about the things they would like to be different.
We have to find a balance of communication that meets everyone's needs. Talking isn't supposed to be nagging and listening is important even if the details don't seem to be. If you feel you are talking your relationship to death then chances are you aren't using positive communication methods and it is turning into a blamefest, nagging, or complaining and not actual talking.
We usually think that dating is how you get into a relationship. But it is also a good way to keep your relationship going strong. As life goes on it is easy to get distracting, caught up in financial issues, work, and if there are kids then it gets really difficult. However, dating can be what keeps the romance alive.
Dating can come in a variety of different styles. You can go to dinner, the movies, or other out and about types of dates that you did when you were getting to know each other. But it can also be cuddling on the couch, eating a romantic dinner together (maybe even cooking one together), or playing card games at home. During this time you can remember the things that attracted you to the person in the first place.
This is also a great way to remind you of the love feelings that you had that made you first say, "I love you" or "I am in love with you".
These dates don't have to happen often, but can happen when you can make time for them, get together, and even come up a little money to do something special.
Long term relationships take work. There is no doubt about it. Good times are easy, and bad times are usually hard. But no matter what if you are willing to work at it then you can make it last. You just need to remember some important things. First, love isn't just an emotion, but a state of being and is deeper then just how you feel. You have to keep that in mind. Second, commitment is one of the most important parts of a long term relationship. You have to stay committed. You also need to work on keeping the lines of communication open. One very helpful way to feel love and to keep communicated is by using dates (just like you did when you were getting to know each other). Long term relationships really can be "till death do us part"!