A February 14th article online from Business Insider Australia could not have written a more simple, effective and beautiful article about why some relationships thrive, and others fail.
The author, Megan Willett, interviewed writer Nate Bagley who used his life savings to travel the world and interview thousands of couples – gay, straight, monogamous, polygamous, and couples who had been together from months to 70 years. From these findings, he discovered that those who were still in love, happy and healthy over many years followed a fairly similar pattern in their relationships.
According to his research, the key aspects that make a union successful are:
Self Love: Emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals are the happiest in a relationship. These people practiced self-love and treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner.
“Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.”
Commitment: After emotional health, an undoubtedly strong level of commitment is a must. Happy couples know that when rough patches occur, their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. “They knew that even if things got hard – no, especially if things got hard — they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”
Trust: Happy couples trust each other through earning that trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words and is a consistent daily practice of fidelity, service, emotional security and reliability. Establishing this foundation is elemental to a couple’s success.
Intentionality: The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who last. This is the icing on the cake. “There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience.”
The best advice Bagley was given came from a woman in Georgia who had been married to her husband for more than 60 years. After asking her what her best relationship advice would be, she responded with this: “Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.”
Resolving differences was the relationship topic that surfaced the most throughout his study. What he learned from these couples was this.
Don’t Fight To Win: A huge number of couples talked about how they didn’t fight against each other. Being in love means playing on the same team, with the goal being resolving the issue together, not being victorious over your partner. Solving a problem with each other at your sides creates a bonding so strong, that it can push through the darkest of days.
Seek to Understand: “If you’re having a hard time playing on the same team, stop fighting and instead try to understand why your partner is upset. Typically what’s being talked about isn’t the real issue. People are inherently bad at being vulnerable, especially in threatening situations. Be willing to ask sincere questions. Let the answers sink in. If she is complaining that you’re spending too much time at work, maybe the real issue is that she misses you, and wants to feel connected with you. Rather than arguing about how you’re providing for the family, and she needs to respect how hard you work, try to listen to what she’s really saying. Then hold her. Come home early one day, and surprise her with a date, or some special one-on-one time. Reassure her that she, and your relationship, are a priority for you. If you don’t want that same issue to arise again, keep investing in the solution.”
Just Be Nice To Each Other. Don’t be disrespectful. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t call each other names. Don’t take personal jabs. Don’t try to intentionally hurt the other person. Be kind and civil and careful. It will prevent a load of negativity from entering your relationship.
It’s easy to become lackadaisical and take each other for granted on a day-to-day, but practicing these very mindful, loving techniques will make an enormous difference in the future of your relationship.