A great relationship is something we all treasure. Yet, most of us don't know what makes a relationship truly last and be happy.
Hollywood films and romances often end where boy and girl finally get together (usually against all odds). What you don't see in the movies? Five years later and the couple is running a household together, and it feels more like a business partnership than a relationship. At that point, many people jump out, saying, "I'm not in love with you anymore," and file for divorce or reactivate their Bumble accounts. How can you ensure that your relationship lasts longer? Here are seven ways to do that.
1. Listen more, talk less.
We read this over and over again, and we all THINK we are great listeners. But, as a dating coach (who teaches people HOW to date successfully), I can tell you that good listening is a learned skill that we always need to work on. When your spouse is talking, reject the urge to jump in and hijack the conversation back to YOUR day or what YOU think. When your partner feels "heard," he or she will feel better.
2. Ask the right questions.
To have a better relationship, ask great, thought provoking questions that give you insight into your partner. Here are a few examples: What makes you feel loved? What hurts you? How can I love you more? We use these questions in our relationship, and it's amazing how different we are. My husband says what makes him feel loved is affection and support. What makes me feel loved are saying kind words and doing things for me (like making me coffee in the morning!) When you understand what your spouse values or dislikes, you'll start to have real conversations — and feel truly closer to each other.
3. Acknowledge the GOOD.
Women especially start to nitpick the "bad" or "not perfect" parts of our mates, and we focus on THOSE aspects. Doing this makes us feel worse about our partners — and this makes them feel badly about us. It's a vicious cycle. Instead, look for what your partner does that is good — and tell them. Daily. As many times as you can!
4. Have date nights with an agenda.
Date nights are great, but they can get stale if you go to the movies every time or to the same neighborhood spot again and again. Do something different to spice things up — take a dance lesson, go to an art exhibit or take a walk with some hot cocoa. And, when you're on the date, set an agenda for talking that has NOTHING to do with the minutiae of every day life — no work, kids, in-laws, etc.
Maybe one date night could be — "let's create our bucket list of things we want to do together!" Another could be, "Let's take a walk down memory lane and think of our five best memories with each other." This enhances positive feelings, and can spike the fun hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, leaving you feeling happy and attached to each other.
5. Realize that LOVE is a verb not a noun.
So often, we think love is a feeling. Actually, I think of love as a verb not a noun. It's an action. Love is being of service to someone, being kind to someone, helping someone achieve their dreams and grow. When you say, "I love you" — it means you will act FOR them. Keeping this in mind will definitely help you to be a better partner in the ways that count!
6. Be on your partner's team.
Women often become fixers everywhere in their lives, including, their partners — which doesn't work so well. When your partner comes home and complains about their colleague having said something rude, women often say, "Well, what he said didn't sound that bad to me," or "Maybe you provoked him to say that?" Instead of just listening, and most importantly, taking their side, women try to "fix" the situation.
This is usually not the right thing to do. The better thing is to be on their side or on their "team" as often as humanly possible. My friend Heidi was talking about how her husband always takes her side (if she says, "Man, my cousin was so rude!" her husband will say, "Yes, he is.") He almost never tries to talk her out of her feelings or see the other's point of view, and she genuinely values that he is on "Team Heidi." There are a few times where you may want to offer a counter opinion, but the fewer and farther between those situations, the better for YOU.
7. Resolve conflict quickly.
Don't let things fester. If something hurts your feelings, or you sense that your partner's feelings have been hurt, be relentless in getting to the bottom of it and solving it. The longer something sits in your mind or heart, the deeper the wounds become. And, the more volcanic the eruption when the same thing happens again. When resolving conflict, have "rules of engagement" — where you can't insult or belittle each other or use profanity.
Incorporate these seven tips and watch how your relationship not only stands the test of time, but also flourishes!
Dating coach Bela Gandhi is the founder and president of Smart Dating Academy.