Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

a coupleIf you are thinking of getting married or already married, you may be interested in what couples who have  been married 10 or more years say is important in making a relationship work. These responses are from the Internet, not scientific, just opinions based on experience. But it is interesting to read what people think is important in making a relationship work. Here’s a compilation of many of the responses.

  1. Marry for the right reasons: People get married for all kinds of wrong reasons–they want someone to fix them, to make them look good or succeed, they feel desperate, pressured to get married, etc. Make sure you know the person well and marry because of the person they are, not the one you hope they might become. Or worse, don’t marry because you feel pressured or think the person will help your career or station in life.
  2. Understand what a covenant means and commit beyond the romance: Romantic love is a chemical love cocktail that eventually wears off. Once those giddy feelings go away, do you like the person you are with enough to commit to a lifetime, good or bad? After the chase is over, is this a person you really like and want to be with for the rest of your life. Give the relationship enough time to allow the love cocktail to wear off.
  3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha sang about it because it is vital to a long term commitment. You need to respect the person you marry or the relationship will become problematic. Out of respect comes trust, patience, love and other important relationship factors. If you don’t respect him or her, don’t marry hoping that respect will come later or the person will change.
  4. Be willing to talk about the tough stuff: Avoidance of difficult issues is a relationship killer. You have to be vulnerable and tackle the hurts and upsets you experience or intimacy will not grow. Doing this requires a level of trust. Trust is a relationship pillar–it has to be there for the relationship to stand over time.
  5. Bring a healthy you to the we. The best way to build relationship health is to work on individual health. The more you can act and respond in a secure and positive way, the better partner you will be. Focusing on fixing the other rarely works –fix yourself first,  and then you will find a healthier partner.
  6. Allow your partner to be who he or she is: Don’t force the person to be like you. Embrace their differences and expand your interests and opinions. Again, if there is trust, you can allow the person some space to pursue their own interest apart from yours. You don’t have to love golf if your partner does, or vote the same way. Give space for the person to maintain his or her individuality –not at the expense of being a couple, but to grow and be who they are created to be.
  7. Know how to fight and make repair: This is why I wrote, We Need to Talk. Couples need to know the rules of engagement like no criticism, name-calling, disrespect, etc. when handling disagreements. And when the fight does go south, be prepared to forgive and make repair. Couples who can disagree, forgive and make up, do well.
  8. Stay attuned to each other: Say I love you, do the dishes and help, have a date night and basically pay attention to each other during everyday living. Give your partner attention and care and don’t allow the kids to take over your relationship. Track with your partner, especially with their emotions. We all want to feel special to someone and know they support us.
  9. Have regular sex. Sex is important and necessary to sustain a marriage relationship Sex is typically a sign of relationship health –if you respect and love your partner, stay attuned and plugged in emotionally.  Sex is a natural result of a healthy marriage. Going without sex is dangerous for a couple when it is not due to a health issue or a from a period of stress. So pay attention to your sex life–it brings needed intimacy and emotional connection.
  10. Be in it for the long haul:  Commit to ride out problems and dry times in the relationship. You made a covenant that needs to be honored. Your vows say for better or worse. When a “worse” time comes, ride it out and work to make the relationship better. Too many people give up and think the grass is greener only to find that everyone has issues. So work on you, the relationship and keep God in the center in order to make it through times of difficulty.
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