Itís not easy to make long-term relationships work, but these tips should help make yours last at least 21 years and hopefully many more.
1. You need to know that those crazy-in-love feelings will meet real life someday.
This doesnít mean they go away; this just means they have to be tamed. Walking around on Cloud Nine is awesome, until you canít get anything done at work. Or until your significant other does something that really pisses you off. This is the first time we have a ďjudgement dayĒ or ďIs this what I want?Ē moment.
ďFalling in love and having a relationship are two very different things.Ē ~ Keanu Reeves
2. You wonít always like your partner.
Itís true. There will be moments when youíll look at your partnerís face and wonder why you ever thought it was attractive. He or she will make you so angry, or act so silly, or be so. . . wrong, youíll barely be able to deal with tit. And thatís okay, as long as you both know itís ďa moment.Ē
3. You wonít always feel attracted to your partner.
What? No way, you say in the beginning. However, itís true. Itís usually because youíre angry. Or maybe youíre shallow. Whatever the reason, we go through phases and our partners donít always attract us the same way as day one. It becomes an issue when this is long-standing. Try to remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place. Hint: Itís not always looks. One of the sexiest qualities of my husband is his sense of humor. (Of course, heís pretty good-looking, too, but heís damn funny.)
4. Your sex life wonít always be amazing.
In fact, there will be times when you have no sex life. Sometimes it comes naturally and the stars and planets align, the kids fall asleep early, your work schedules mesh or a million other things happen, and, voilŗ!, sex happens. Other times, youíll have your hands full of babies, work demands or so much laundry/cooking/cleaning that youíll be exhausted, or, as in our case, yet another heart surgery (me) that will wipe out this activity for months. Thatís life.
Intimacy, however, doesnít have to mean sex. Just saying.
5. Youíll wonder if thereís something better out there.
Heck yeah, you will. Youíve probably seen better on social media. Thatís because everyone posts the best of the best. Happy families, awesome houses, beautiful new cars, amazing vacations, perfect kids Ė those are the things we post. Who wants to see pictures of my 12-year-old Expedition that needs new tires? Only when I have all the surf boards on top because Iím posting that the kids are going surfing and that itís 80 perfect degrees in perfect San Diego. Itís no wonder we think about greener grass out there. Just remember, everyone has weeds in their grass. (Trust me, in California, thereís no greener grass anywhere during this drought!)
6. Youíll hurt each other.
Meaning youíll say stuff that you wish you could take back. Regularly. It will roll off your tongue in the heat of the moment because you know just how to hurt your partner. You know him well enough to know what stings the most. He knows your every fault, and your familyís faults and your history. Donít think any of it is off-limits when you argue. Is this okay to do? Absolutely not. We shouldnít try to hit hard with the zingers, but we do. It takes work to fight fair, but in the long run, itís worth it.
7. Youíre not always right; Your partner is not always wrong.
Itís really not about whoís right and whoís wrong. Donít spend hours or energy trying to prove it. Youíre wasting oxygen and minutes of your life.
8. Youíll ride the edge of trust and so will your partner.
Personally, I think Smartphones are the devil. They are the biggest cause of trust issues these days. Use them wisely. Between social media and texting, weíve all second-guessed ourselves or our partners at least once. Long-term relationships MUST include trust. While youíre as open as possible with your partner, you will each need to have some privacy. This means trust. Just know that trust has an incredible ebb and flow in relationships.
9. You may hit that rock bottom moment when you think thereís no way this marriage will last.
Sometimes, things happen in life that change the very core of a marriage. My husband and I have two children with devastating health conditions, weíve been through more than any parent or married couple should have to go through. Ever. Iíve had serious health issues. Some people tell my husband heís a trooper ďfor sticking aroundĒ. If youíve ever experienced a death of a parent or, worse, a child, or have gone through a catastrophic event, you know how hard it is to remain together. Only the strong marriages survive. When you hit that moment of truth, itís not enough to simply say, ďWe made a vow.Ē You have to pull out all the punches and remember who you are to each other and who you need to be for each other.
ďLove is no assignment for cowards.Ē ~ Ovid
10. You need to swallow your pride. A lot.
Just get over yourself and do it. No need to say more.
11. You should be kind. All of the time.
Even if youíre mad, be a kind person. Donít be an jerk. (Well, sometimes you have to be, but return to kindness fast). Remember that phrase ďKill íem with kindnessĒ? It works.
12. Understand your partner will change, develop and evolve over time. Be accepting.
Because youíll change, develop and evolve over time, too. And youíll expect your partner to accept you. Because life changes around us and experiences change people, you canít expect people to stay the same. Hopefully, the two of you will evolve together.
ďPeople change and forget to tell each other.Ē ~ Lillian Hellman
13. Learn to appreciate your partnerís good and bad qualities.
Donít dwell on your partnerís faults. You donít want her to nag on your faults all day long, so donít do it to her. In the beginning, those faults didnít matter so much. You were able to fall in love, werenít you? Even if your guy leaves the toilet seat up . . . every single time he goes to the bathroom. Are you really willing to kill the relationship over a toilet seat?
14. Youíll see each other at your worst.
If you stick around after seeing each other at the bottom most point in your lives, youíre golden. After several surgeries, my poor husband has had to help me in ways I NEVER thought heíd have to do. Totally embarrassing, but he didnít even blink. Heís a keeper (and apparently so am I).
15. You should be eating dinner together.
Having this time together is almost a thing of the past these days with all our crazy schedules, but this is an incredible opportunity to reconnect with your partner. Talk about your day. Talk about the good and bad things. Use this time to work things out. Enjoy the senses together (sight, smell, taste).
16. You should be playing together.
Activities donít have to be fancy or planned. Sometimes impromptu is the best. It can be as simple as walking out back to play an imaginary putting contest (as we often do when we canít hit the course). You can include the kids or go at it alone. Enjoying activities together makes your relationship stronger.
ďYou can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.Ē ~ Plato
17. Youíll always have someone to laugh at your incredibly stupid jokes.
Even if itís a courtesy laugh.
18. Youíll grow old together.
You can freak out about gray hair together. Youíll figure out wrinkles look better on him; heíll figure out anti-wrinkle cream is damn expensive and a necessity for you. Youíll both move a little slower or work out a little harder. Food will become a little healthier and a little more important. Money will become an issue you discuss together. You may or may not have children, but if you do, youíll be exhausted together, overwhelmed together and utterly in love together. Youíll start watching weird TV shows together and maybe worry more about the news together. Whatever you do, it will all be done as a unit because youíll always be thinking as a couple.
While itís not easy to maintain a long-term relationship, itís certainly doable. Itís not always as happy as butterflies and unicorns and not always as exciting as March Madness, but the hard work is certainly worth it.
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