Many of you know that I have covered love, dating, and marriage for numerous well-known publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, iVillage, and About.com. For the last 15 years, I have often interviewed marriage counselors, psychologists, and veteran married folks about how to keep relationships strong. What I’ve realized is that love doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it. We really overthink it, ladies! And some of you guys have gotten in on the act lately, too. Here’s all we really need to know to keep our love blooming:
- Keep your promises. Trust is earned, and it is the bedrock of your relationship. Once trust is lost, it’s hard to get back. The good news is that gaining and keeping one’s trust couldn’t be simpler. Do what you say you’re going to do. Stay faithful, show up, and make your spouse feel secure in your all-around dependability. It requires commitment, but it’s not all that hard to do.
- Be kind. At some point, the world lost its manners. Many of us never say hello to our neighbors, we can be short with our loved ones, and we shun people online without thought. There’s a culture of bullying that has infected the way we conduct our personal relationships. We all need to STOP right now! Instead of snapping at your spouse, stop and think for a moment. Don’t do anything to your spouse that you wouldn’t want done to you. Follow the golden rule and your relationship should be golden.
- Dwell on the positives. Relationships ebb and flow. There are going to be challenging times, a result of all sorts of life’s happenings. Sometimes, there’s a toll on your relationship. You might argue more or lose touch with each other. As a result, you start to think negatively about your spouse. Sometimes, the negative thoughts become the norm. They start to wear away at your bond. Marriage counselor after marriage counselor has told me that people must replace the negative thoughts with positive ones repeatedly and often until the negative thoughts cease to exist. You must string together the beautiful memories and happy thoughts that led you to fall in love in the first place as though you are making a string of pearls that is uniquely yours.
- Talk to each other. Silence isn’t always a bad thing. But too much of it can kill your relationship. You must talk to each other and communicate what’s happening in your world. You have to share thoughts, dreams, grievances, and fears as much as you do the grocery list and Junior’s soccer schedule. Learning to make yourself vulnerable and better able to listen to your partner are skills you must constantly improve. It is arguably the single most important tool in the relationship kit.