You always hear about how important it is to do certain things in a relationship like compromise and communicate, but what are the things that really keep partners together in the long run? Mark Manson, a bestselling author, blogger, and entrepreneur, decided to find out on behalf of all of us.
He asked a simple question. He wanted to find out what people who’ve been happily married for 10 or more years could tell others. What lessons had they learned? He asked his readers and got responses from 1,500 people. Guess what he found?
Turns out, people were saying the same things. “These were smart and well-spoken people from all walks of life from all around the world, all with their own histories, tragedies, mistakes, and triumphs,” Mark said. “And yet they were all saying pretty much the same things.” Here are the most important things required to keep your relationship going strong.
Don’t put a ring on it for the sake of it. Don’t get married for the wrong reasons. An example mentioned in the study was getting married due to feeling pressure from loved ones. Interestingly, being with the wrong person was the most common mistake people in the survey said they’d made in previous marriages! Yikes.
Forget the damn fairytale. You’ve got to stay committed to your person and commitment is a choice you continue making—even, as Mark explains, on days when that person doesn’t make you happy. It’s not their job to do so!
Respect trumps communication every time. Mark noticed an interesting trend. People who had been with their partners for 10 to 15 years spoke about communication being the most important thing. But in couples who’d been married for up to 40 years, the most important thing was respect. Without it, your relationship can’t stand the test of time.
Trust—or else. Many people in the survey spoke about the importance of trust when it comes to fidelity and jealousy. For instance, you have to trust your partner to go somewhere alone. Makes sense. If you don’t trust each other then you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You’re also holding onto each other too much, afraid to let your partner do their own thing, which is dangerous.
You’re already complete, for goodness’ sake. You’re not waiting for someone to complete you, and if you’re going into an LTR with that mindset, good luck. A healthy relationship is made up of two healthy individuals. Period.
You need space—lots of it! Seriously, don’t lose your independence and solo time when you’re in an LTR. People in the survey said it was really important to have space and they had quite interesting ideas for how to maintain your space: having different interests and friends, having separate checking accounts, taking separate vacations, and some even had separate bedrooms!
Your partner’s going to be someone else in 10 years. It’s unrealistic AF to think that your partner’s going to be the same man he is right now. People change and you have to be willing to accept this. One of the things that came up again and again in the survey was that people change a lot as the years go by. One of the participants even said, “One day many years from now, you will wake up and your spouse will be a different person. Make sure you fall in love with that person too.” Ugh.
You have to fight fair—and then let that stuff go. Fighting is normal, but it’s how you do it that makes all the difference. If you and your partner are always fighting dirty, such as by calling each other names or disrespecting each other’s opinions, you’re doomed. Almost every person who participated in the study said that you have to learn to be good at dealing with conflicts, and they gave advice such as that being right isn’t as important as both people feeling that they’re heard and respected.
The little things are actually huge. Keeping a relationship going strong means not giving up on the small things. Half of the people surveyed said it’s really important to do the little things for each other in a relationship because they add up. These “little things” include holding hands and saying “I love you” before going to bed. It’s not rocket science but it means so much!
Get naked more! Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. As they say, what happens in the bedroom can tell you a lot about what’s happening outside of it. Many people in the study said that sex can be used to heal relationships, such as after a horrible fight or during stressful times. A few of the people also said that if things are stale in their relationship, they have sex every day for a whole week to get them back on track! Um, TMI, but it’s awesome.
Be practical about who does what. Who does what in the relationship? If you’re stuck on the idea that you have to do certain things based on gender, such as that the wife has to do the household chores, your relationship could sink. The study found that a common thread of advice from those surveyed was that you have to be pragmatic. So, for instance, if a guy works from home, it might make sense for him take on the parenting chores, and if you’re in a high-powered job in which you earn lots of money it probably makes sense for you to stay in it. Be flexible and practical so you find what works for you.
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