Maximize your chances of success by living by a few simple rules.
Relationships are difficult. Every year new books are published offering advice and guidance, while magazines and newspapers are filled with tales of heartbreak, infidelity and divorce. Of course, no relationship is guaranteed to endure, no matter what you do. But live by a few simple rules and you will at least maximize your chances of success.
First, beware the small things, both good and bad. Do not underestimate the ‘drip, drip effect’. For example, if you are naturally messy, but your partner is obsessively tidy, be conscious of this. Unpleasant personal habits can also undermine a relationship: burping, passing wind, leaving toe nail clippings or shaved hair in the bath, all soon break the romantic spell. Many bitter divorces began with trivial irritations.
Small, loving gestures keep a relationship strong. This is especially true when children arrive. Keep it romantic, and make time for one another. That does not mean a candle-lit dinner or a trip to Paris. Too many people attempt to repair months of neglect through one clumsy gesture. Keep it simple. Leave a note on your partner’s pillow, or buy a copy of their favorite magazine on your way home. If your partner is to give a presentation at work, send a text saying “thinking of you”, or “you’ll be great”, just before it is due. Anyone can say “I love you” on anniversaries and birthdays; you need to demonstrate that love.
Second, be clear what you want and expect. A committed relationship means just that. Nothing breaks a loving bond so quickly as the loss of trust.
Third, do not confuse loving commitment with obsessive attachment. If you expect and offer sexual fidelity, be clear about this. But once it is clear, give your partner space and freedom. He or she is not your property. The best relationships include a certain detachment. Do not grow resentful if your partner pursues their own interests, sees friends without inviting you or simply wishes to read a book in a different room.
Fourth, be wary of selfishness. The self-centered are always hard to live with. They expect a great deal, but they give little in return. Indeed, selfishness is the very opposite of love. When you truly love someone, you give freely, but you give without expecting anything in return. Too many people behave as if love and affection can be weighed and measured, as if what they give must be repaid in kind. Selfishness manifests itself in numerous ways: monopolizing the TV remote, choosing the vacations, refusing to visit in-laws and so on.
Fifth, be tolerant. Of course, this does not mean allowing resentment to fester and build. Constructive criticism is healthy and can even strengthen a relationship. But everyone has their faults. Avoid creating an ideal in your mind. If you do, the reality can only disappoint. No matter how handsome or beautiful your partner is, no matter how charming or sweet, once you move in together you will discover faults. Everyone has moments of laziness, thoughtlessness or bad temper.
Finally, keep it fun. Ask an elderly couple why their marriage has lasted and they will invariably use the words ‘fun’ and ‘humor’. Physical beauty fades, and few couples can maintain the initial sexual fire. If you want a relationship that will last, you must like your partner. A good sex life is never enough. Do you enjoy their company? Do they make you laugh? Do you have fun? Do you share interests? These are the things that keep people together.
Some relationships fail due to serious problems: infidelity, violence or simple incompatibility. In such circumstances, a clean break may be best. More often, it is down to small failings. So be clear what you want from the relationship, and avoid selfishness in any form; be prepared to commit, but do not grow jealous or obsessive; be wary of your bad habits, but learn to tolerate those of your partner; and, above all, keep it fun. Remember, no matter how hard you work on it, no matter how attracted you are to one another, if you cease to enjoy yourselves the relationship is doomed. -Allnatt