This is a question I seem to get frequently — and, I’ve been pretty clear here in this blog that such a topic is outside the scope of these 500 words. 🙂  But it brings up a point I’ve been thinking about quite a bit and actually watching with my friends who are in long-term relationships.

Look, we are generally getting to that stage where our kids are getting older and our relationships are getting longer and inevitably getting a bit less exciting.  Which means that lately I’ve seen some friends decide that their current “situation” is no longer the right situation and I’ve seen some friends decide that they will stick with their “situation” even in times of significant trials.  What gives? What makes one work and one not. Inquiring minds want to know. What’s the secret sauce?

In listening to my close friends I’ve come up with a few common themes. I think they go with any relationship – and there many kinds of important relationships – so, who can’t use a tip or two?

  1. Great relationships are realistic. There will be days, months and years where the imperfections of our partners are in the fore. And being realistic about those imperfections (and admitting that we have them too) is the only way to keep a relationship healthy. We should idolize our partner, but remember they really are human.
  2. Real partners say they are sorry.  It is not and should not be the hardest word.
  3. Respectful partners argue but argue gently. It’s not whether we argue (we will). It’s how we argue. I was once in a relationship where someone would call me some pretty brutal names during an argument. I completely lost respect for him. Don’t do it. Your relationship days will be dark and numbered.
  4. Long standing relationships seem to have partners that show their appreciation. People in happy marriages feel appreciated, loved, and respected. My feeling is we can never go wrong when we tell our partners what we love about them.
  5. My favorite partnerships are those where the partners laugh together. Couples who laugh together and regularly reminisce about funny times tend to be much more satisfied with their relationships.
  6. The best ones (in my humble opinion) are selfless. I see more relationships end because of selfishness than any other reason. Surveys blame it on finances, lack of commitment, infidelity, or incompatibility, but the root cause for these reasons is selfishness. A selfish person is committed only to himself or herself, shows little patience, and never learns how to be a successful partner. End of story.

It is a simple proposition to value our relationships, treat them with great care, and invest into them daily. I’m talking ALL relationships. Being in one requires nearly every bit of ourselves, but it’s so worth it. After all, happy and healthy relationships are far more valuable than most of temporary things we chase after every day of our lives. And they last forever.