Written by CGD - Fri 2nd Apr 2021
This advice is for anyone who is currently single, dating, engaged, married or living with their partner. Relationships need to be nurtured and developed and time spent on them just for them to have a chance of success.
There's a belief that that we look for mirror images of ourselves, someone who in many ways (other than physical looks) is very similar to us. Similar personality traits work best as opposites don't work in the long term. It doesn't mean being clones of ourselves, the world would be a dreary place if we were to focus our attention on finding an identical mate. It could seriously limit our opportunities, or our outlook on life.
Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live your life; your personal and working life. When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good - you're satisfied and content.
Values are usually fairly stable, yet they don't have strict limits or boundaries. As you move through your life you may see a change in those values. For example when you started your career, you may have measured success by money and status but once you have a family, work-life balance may be what you value more. Although other differences can be accommodated and tolerated, a difference in values could be problematic if the goal is long-lasting love.
There is no secret to a long happy relationship, both partners need to commit to making it work and communicating is the core essence of a stable happy relationship. The only thing that can break up a relationship are the partners themselves.
It is important to consider your partner, as the success of the relationship depends on both parties being prepared to discuss any issues that may arise. It's worth noting that everyone has a breaking point, and if needs are not met or the other partner doesn't feel particularly valued they will more likely than not consider that the relationship is not worth continuing. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that no relationship is perfect as an excuse for being complacent.
Everyone needs some 'me time' and create some interests outside the relationship. This doesn't mean that your hobbies and interests take over your life, you just need to have some space to reinforce what you appreciate about your relationship, this will give a new perspective to discuss each other's interests.
Doing and saying small simple expressions of gratitude works wonders. Small gestures could be a simple as a hug, kiss, hold hands, buy a small gift or just an appreciation of how wonderful they are. When people feel appreciated or recognised there's the feel-good factor which reinforces how special they are, which in turn makes them more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger.
Love is a trade off and a social exchange, not just a feeling. Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of our partners too. When the exchange is mutually satisfying, then good feelings will flow. When either one in the relationship doesn't get their emotional (or physical ) needs met then the relationship can turn sour and it could be on course to end. That is why it is very important to pay close attention to what you and your partner actually do for each other as an expression of love - not just how you feel about each other in the moment.
Research has shown that the way a problem is brought up determines both how the rest of that conversation will go and how the rest of the relationship will go. Many times an issue is brought up by criticising or blaming a partner and this stance is one of the killers of a relationship. Try to see things from your partner's perspective and discuss things to flesh out the problem.
There is one major cause of relationship problems: self-abandonment. We can abandon ourselves in many areas; emotional, (Judging or ignoring our feelings), financial (spending irresponsibly), being disorganised by being late or messy, physical (eating badly, not exercising), relational (creating conflict in a relationship), or spiritual (depending too much on your partner for love). Remember that a relationship should be equal trust, equal love and equal respect.
When you decide to learn to love yourself rather than continue to abandon yourself, you will discover how to create a loving relationship with your partner.