Recently I had the opportunity to sit and take a look at my 10 year relationship with my husband, and I discovered, thanks to my parents, that I didn’t know a thing. My parents have been married for 45 years and thanks to their long time together, they’ve discovered some secrets to a happy and long-lasting relationship like theirs. So, I sat with them one evening and wrote down a few tips that ended up literally changing my life and so, today, I choose to share them with you.
Some couples spend years trying to change each other's opinions, but to no avail, because most of our opinions are based on our past and define who we are. Trying to do this is dangerous and can lead to the loss of the relationship if you don’t know how to deal with opposing opinions. My parents say that what helped them get through this difficult hurdle is acceptance of the other - they understand that problems and disagreements are an integral part of a long-term relationship, like medical problems that arise over the years as they get older.
They recommend looking at it so simply because, like medical problems, we may not want them, however, we can still deal with them, and this is also true of differences between partners. My parents claim that this is part of the fun of a long-term relationship because my partners come with a basket of values, beliefs, and opinions that will come forth over the years, even after 45 years of marriage. Therefore, remember to accept each other as you are, to know that you agree to disagree, and not demand that your partner change for - these are the keys to a happy and long-standing relationship.
Most of the problems that arise in relationships, small or large as they may be, stem from lack of communication. This gap is important to prevent from the beginning of the relationship, and according to my parents, it can be done in two simple ways; One is to understand that our spouse isn’t a mind reader and can’t understand what is going on in our heads if we don’t say it aloud.
The second way is to listen to understand and not to respond, meaning you have to open your ears when your partner talks to you, listen and accept things without passing judgment. For these tips to work, you need to put your phone aside, turn your body towards your partner, look them deep in the eyes and try to put yourself in their shoes. Through these simple actions, you show each other that you are 100% attentive and want to hear what your partner has to say without reacting and judging. It is very important that you understand that creating such a safe and secure environment can only help develop, grow and improve your relationship to pure happiness.
We all want to feel loved and admired, this is human nature, but it can hurt our self-confidence and emotional strength if these are the only things we yearn for. My parents explain that if your happiness depends on your partner’s acceptance and approval, then you are investing more energy than you should be in it. The key to success is knowing how to cultivate your inner self and then bring it into the relationship. The only confirmation you need is you.
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you don’t have to justify who you are to anyone, not even your spouse. Remember that you can choose your own reality and have the power to decide how to divide your time and energy. My parents claim that once you feel that you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone - when you trust who you are - you are freer to give and receive love from the heart.
It is very rare to find a relationship without arguments, and when a particular disagreement is observed, most people tend to escape it rather than deal with it. This escape is done naturally by most of us, but my parents explain that it is necessary to stop and understand that it’s not about us and whether we are able to deal with disagreements or not, rather it touches on our relationship and what it needs to continue to grow and flourish in the long run.
When you are in conflict with your partner, a simple and effective way to conduct a discussion is to avoid using the word "you" and replace it with "I". This will make conversations about the differences in the relationship more pleasant. For example, instead of saying "you are wrong," say, "I didn’t understand." Instead of saying "you always," say, "I often feel." Remember that relationships grow and develop when both people are able to share their inner thoughts and feelings in a positive way.
We all tend to get angry and experience unexplained mood swings from time to time, but as my parents taught me when someone close to me experiences these things, I have to give them space and time to work through it. This does only good for relationships because the last thing an angry person needs is to talk about why they are angry, the first thing they need to do is calm down so that they can open up later. My parents explain that giving your partner time and space, and not taking it personally when they are angry, having a bad day or are down in the dumps, can be a great gift for the relationship.
Even if you think you are 100 percent right when emotions arise and you expect your partner to speak rationally, you are actually only intensifying the emotional turmoil they are experiencing and therefore are not making any progress towards happiness in your relationship. So, all you have to do if your partner is experiencing a bad day is to give them the time and space to relax and then have a mature and positive conversation as you learned to do in the previous section.
My parents explain that in order to establish a happy and healthy relationship it is best to have two people who feel obligated to growth and development in their personal and shared lives. The couple should be curious and want to learn from the world and from each other, and by doing so they will provide each other with the freedom to grow within the relationship.
Sometimes, some of us encounter stubborn people who aren’t willing to open and learn and who tend to stay in their comfort zone, but in this case, they should understand that changes happen and are an integral part of life. If you want to have a happy and stable relationship, you have to look for, support and accept your partner’s personal growth, along with all the changes that will come with it.
The last point my parents advise in the search for a happy relationship is to practice love every day. In a healthy and long-term relationship, there are two people who love each other more than they need each other. Because of this, the relationship becomes a safer environment in which love can be practiced; Love is practice - a daily return of sincerity, presence, communication, acceptance, forgiveness, and patience.
Unfortunately, we sometimes forget to practice it and tend to treat love as something obvious that can be reached at any given moment. We want to reach this wonderful feeling without effort, and when that doesn’t happen, we think that the relationship is broken. However, by thinking this way, we miss the whole idea and meaning of a happy relationship and above all, of love. Therefore, you must remember that love is a day-to-day practice that tests you in the uncomfortable moments in which you must take a deep breath and see what needs to be practiced at the moment. This will help you establish a happy, healthy, stable and long-term relationship.
A few words to close
My parents have been married for 45 years, have been in a relationship with each other for over 50 years, and they love each other more every day. Thanks to their great advice for a happy relationship, I also have a stable, healthy and loving relationship. Their advice is the best thing I’ve ever received and I’ve chosen to share it with you in hopes that they will help you too. A last tip from me: You can talk to other adult couples in your life and see what advice they can give you for a happy and long-term relationship.