Where long-term love is concerned it’s probably something the individual must try to discover if it’s something they want before they get in too deep. Many couples seek out counselling, therapy and other remedies to try and repair broken relationships just a short while in, but what if they never got to that point in the first place?
Relationships that last are built on a foundation of all the old adages we’ve heard:
- give and take
- not having expectations
- hard work
But what if it’s also about going into each day, each moment together with thankfulness and with the realisation of the very impermanent business of life? We can argue about the kids, who didn’t pick up the dog poop, leaving the toilet seat up but really, if your life was forever changed and you suddenly lost your partner tomorrow would any of that matter?
There are two strong warnings to heed:
a) Don’t move too fast to shack up and marry – if you marry a stranger how do you cope with the person once you finally get to know them? You can’t fall in love with someone you legitimately despise. Especially when you don’t even know you despise them yet. Ask all the questions, push all the buttons and try your best to pull out every honest character trait (good or bad) this love interest has.
B) If you have religious, political or nutritional beliefs that are a big deal to you or your loved incumbent, find out how you’re going to live through that. If they’re going to church every Sunday and you are an atheist, is that something you can both live with?
These tips aren’t meant to keep people in toxic situations. If your partner is mean spirited, controlling, not contributing equally, thieving, cheating or otherwise totally removed from a functional relationship with you, it’s time to get out that list of pros and cons, weigh them out and start packing if that’s what is in the cards.
If you can cross these “Big Five’s” off your list, you’re on the right track for forever love, whether that means 15 or 50 years. Use your time wisely.
1. Be best friends
Some may scoff at this advice but it’s incredibly powerful. Being sexually excited at first will have you seeing a lot of each other (wink wink) often at the beginning, but once the lust wears off and the substance of the relationship is tested, do you have any real interest in each other? After the romantic phase wears off you, begin building the muscle of a powerful relationship on the thin bones that brought you together. This bulking phase of love is the gold standard that most relationships lack. And if you find yourself out with the boys or girls more often than you are with your spouse, or find yourself sitting in a room together without any real heart-centered conversation, you need to work on making plans together to ensure your relationship is full of entertainment so you don’t look elsewhere.
2. Have common interests
You might never want to play 18 holes for half of a beautiful sunny day, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a host of other things you could be doing together. If you share no interests you will spend more time apart than what is healthy for a relationship that isn’t long distance. If there were things that you or your partner “used to do in the beginning” either someone was lying about their perpetual desire to go mountain climbing or you’ve gotten lazy and need to reaffirm your mutual love of the outdoors.
3. Never lie, no matter what
Little cracks will begin to show up when you or your love interest misrepresent yourselves. If you’ve been hearing tales of your significant others downhill ski records last season but have yet to see them set foot on the hill, you know something is up.
Telling tales about something as trivial as an obsession with outdoor activity can lead to more lies hiding in a nasty, little closet somewhere. It doesn’t matter how much you think you can learn to like something, you both deserve to benefit from knowing the truth about your mutual talents, hobbies, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, past indiscretions or career aspirations from day one. This usually happens in the dating phase so if you tend to fib about these things, it’s necessary that you stop.
4. Set goals together
You could be saving for a house, a trip of a lifetime or working on your long-term fitness goals. Whatever your desires, they are individual and you get to choose your own adventure!
The key is that you are actually having adventures together and grasping after the brass rings you are setting up for yourselves. It’s awesome to watch your partner excel in business or sports or bonnet making, but having unified goals keeps your relationship in a forward motion with a bit of giddy excitement and plenty of conversation around the dinner table. Instead of being a spectator in your partner’s life, be all in, no holds barred and passionate about your journeys together.
You may not feel it now, but somewhere in the corner of your mind, a little voice might be asking for a night of gin cocktails, Maybe some sexy lingerie. Be vocal with your desires (see item 3) and you will build up more trust and intimacy by sharing all of the levels of your wants and needs. It’s exciting to hear whispered confessions and new arousing ideas from a partner. Don’t shy away; this is where the real connection is made when we are most vulnerable.