Indeed the title of this article is a bit of deceptive; there really are no secrets to achieving a happy and healthy relationship with someone. Before you feel disappointed, this is good news! This means that you really can achieve the marriage you want or the relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought eluded you. If you ever wondered why some couples make it look easy while others seem to do more fighting than relating to one another, it’s simple. Couple A knows that “secret” really is code for a four-letter word – WORK. Yes, what Couple A does that Couple B hasn’t figured out is that while fighting is one form of communication, it’s an unhealthy one. Couple A has disagreements, they just have learned how to resolve them and they also take the time to nurture the relationship.
Every House Needs a Foundation
You can’t build the second story of a house if you haven’t laid the foundation of your house, right? While it seems pretty obvious, transferring that logic to building a relationship often gets people stuck. Before you jump to the point where you can hardly extricate yourselves from the bedroom, spending time together learning about each other will serve your future together well. Hours spent on the phone talking about each other’s childhoods, your hopes, dreams and finding common ground are all essential building blocks to your future.
Relationships that start off with a bang almost always go out with an even bigger bang. Whether it’s three months, six months or a year, get to know each other really, really, REALLY well before you jump to that intimacy stage. Because when relationships go from the honeymoon stage to a point where adversity happens (anything from differences of opinion to illness to death), you will be thankful you created that foundation.
If you have the sense that Couple A in the scenario above never fights, you’d be wrong. All couples at one time or another find themselves disagreeing with one another. Human beings are just not programmed to agree with one another all the time. But the so-called secrets that Couple A learned early on can be found in these easy-to-follow steps.
Keep Your Promises – Always and No Matter What
Knowing that you don’t like being promised that someone – in particular your partner or spouse – will do something and he or she doesn’t follow through, neither does he or she like it when you do the same. Lead by example. When you promise to do something, do it. Whether it’s as mundane as washing the dishes or cleaning out the gutters or is BIG like promising to raise kids together and be equal partners doing it, it is important to keep your promises. In both situations, neither spouse likes feeling that he or she is the only one holding up his or her end of the bargain.
Never Take Your Partner for Granted and Always Say Thank You
Just because you are married or in a long-term committed partnership, doesn’t mean that either of you is obligated to do everything the other requests. While it’s reasonable to think that your partner will pick up your son from school and do his or her share of the household chores, showing up to your sister’s husband’s cousin’s wedding is not. This is especially the case if your partner is introverted and would rather stay home than socialize. We tend to think that it is, but it’s not. And so, if your partner did this willingly, the only proper thing to say is, “Thank you for attending, especially because I know you really didn’t want to.” This acknowledges that you understand he is introverted and prefers his alone time and it shows him that he’s appreciated and not taken for granted.
Along those same lines, although we assume one partner will cook dinner while the other will wash the dishes, it is still nice to be thanked. After your wife finishes cooking – even if the meal gave you indigestion, always thank her. If your husband washed the dishes, please thank him for doing so – even if he cracked a wine glass doing it.
Don’t Expect Things In Your Partner’s Personality That Just Aren’t There
If you already know that your partner doesn’t like socializing a lot or needs downtime after doing so, expecting him to show up to every social event is just plain unfair. While it may not make sense to you that he’d want to stay home in his Batman shorts and build a clock radio instead of going to yet another wedding for people he may never see again, just accept this is the man you married. Indeed, he shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t want to get a matching pair of Batman shorts and build a radio. Forcing either of you to do what’s not in your personal make up just builds resentment and that’s never a good thing in a marriage.
Whether you have kids or not, it’s very important to take time out of your busy schedules to celebrate your love for one another. There are a ton of things to do and cleaning out your account to have fun isn’t the goal here. Spending time with each other, away from your daily stresses is what is important. Whatever your mutual loves are (building clock radios isn’t one of them), that’s a great place to start. Pick an exhibit at your favorite gallery or take in a concert in the park. If money is tight, pack a picnic dinner rather than spend money you don’t have to recreate the romance.
Have a Sense of Humor
Along with doing all the things above and being mindful to never say anything hurtful, it’s great therapy to be able to laugh at one another. Life is full of poignant moments and humor in a relationship can help you through just about anything. Whether it’s making fun of your differences: his shorts, her need to be social, just laugh! It really does the body good!