Top 5 Ways To Make A Relationship Last—The Hard Ones!

Photo by Ed Yourdon

A few months ago, I posted some easy ways to make your relationship stronger. They were simple and not too taxing, right?  But now it’s time to talk about those dreadful things like:

  • Introspection
  • Personal responsibility
  • Seeing past your own anger

Yikes! How un-fun is that? Because, really, how can anyone be expected to do these things when our partner is clearly in the wrong? Hmm, maybe it’s better to see beyond the need to be right and look at how to work out differences?

1.  Don’t be jealous, and if you are, own it. You may not like what I’m going to say, but look at sexy people. They are all around us. On TV, on the street, in the workplace. The day after our wedding, my husband and I took a walk on Mission Beach before we met up with the rest of our friends and family for the post-wedding events. Suddenly, this model-chick with literally the most perfect butt roller-bladed past us. All butts should aspire to look this good. And I know mine does not. But he was still holding my hand, and we had a nice little banter about the perfectness of what had just skated by.

Love yourself enough to know that, despite the fact that we are surrounded by good-looking people, you still have someone who loves you for who you are. Love and trust your partner enough to know that looking is simply that. Looking.

A caveat: be aware that feelings are not logical, and we cannot be expected to control them. We do control how we act upon them. If you are jealous about someone specific, own this feeling, and be honest about it. Don’t tell your boyfriend that he can’t look at other women. Instead, be specific. Tell him, “look, I trust you, but I feel a little jealous when you talk about how much fun your super-model, blonde, Swedish, office mate is.”  No ultimatum, no suggestion that he quit, change offices, or stop talking to the lady. You may find that, instead of a fight, you’re met with an “I’m sorry” or, better yet, he says, “you know I love you best,” or “she reminds me of you.”

Another caveat: gauge your partner’s reactions. If you see your boyfriend cringe every time you ogle the sexy waiter at the sushi restaurant as he refills your sake, don’t jump to the conclusion that he’s being too controlling. He may be trying not to act jealous, but cannot control the feeling. Be aware of how your actions can affect others, and reassure him that it’s his sake that keeps you warm, and not the waiter’s.

2.  Be honest about your moods. We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed. And when we do, boy, is our partner ever annoying! But it’s not fair to pick a fight just because you’re having a crappy day. By the way, this is not easy to do because, sometimes, I cannot pinpoint what is bothering me. I just know that I am angry and that my husband is taking too long a shower, or hogging the computer, or left a spoonful of yogurt in the container, and it is driving me crazy!

But instead of airing all my anger in dramatic, raging monologue, followed by a door-slamming exit, I ask myself, “would this have bothered me yesterday?” I know my husband doesn’t do things to purposefully make me mad. So, I tell him that I’m frustrated, not with him, but that I still need a little space. And if I need help from him, I tell him specifically what I need. We can’t expect mind-reading.

3.  He’s not the perfect man, he’s the perfect man for you. Okay, this one’s abstract because it’s a change of mindset. He’s not the perfect guy because he’s tall, handsome, likes to take long walks on the beach and read poetry. He’s perfect because he loves you for who you are (not because you’re tall, gorgeous, like to take long walks on the beach and watch football games.) He’s perfect because he respects himself enough to know what he wants in a relationship and is willing to build one with you.

4.  During a fight, look at things from his point of view. Seriously, when my husband and I fight, the last thing I want to do is see things from his side because, really, I’m the hurt and wronged-one here. But when I actually listen, I can see a different perspective—maybe not one I like or agree with, but a step toward resolution nevertheless.

Just acknowledging that both of you are hurting takes the “right” and the “wrong” out of the fight and it makes it easier to find a solution that makes both of you happy.

5.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Communication is really what this all boils down to.  “I need you to understand how I feel.”  “I need your help.” “I need to understand how you feel.” These aren’t easy conversations. They take patience and respect for yourself and your partner. We have to work to understand our feelings and our partner’s, but in the end, we learn as much about ourselves as we do about the one we love.

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  • I swear you’ve been reading my mind.

  • Mind-reading happens to be one of my specialties!!

  • Lot’s of great wisdom in this article. I like point #3.He’s not the perfect man, he’s the perfect man for you.

    I have been having a lot of dialogue about the book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” by: Lori Gottlieb. I think people tend to look for Mr. or Miss Perfect rather than Mr. or Miss perfect for me.

  • I actually appreciate your list of hard ways to make a relationship last more than the easy ones. These are the ones that I need constant reminders on!

  • Another good list!
    About no. 1 – not only don’t I mind when my girlfriend looks at a hot guy, but I even point them out to her, and she does the same for me with the hot girls. Of course, when I’m with someone, I don’t crank my head in all directions looking for attractive women, because I’m too busy looking at her…

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