When you are in a good spell in your relationship, you usually think it’s great to be in a relationship. You feel you are one of the lucky ones who can "live happily ever after." If you are in an unhappy spell in your relationship, you quickly feel your life is a nightmare, and you wish you could change your partner. Most people want to be in a happy permanent relationship or to be happily married.
Here are the seven keys I believe lead to a successful relationship:
Everybody wants to be loved for who they are, and nobody wants to be criticized for who they are. We each have our own unique set of values or priorities or things that are important to us. Nobody has your set of values or preferences, and that is what makes you unique. There is nobody like you and nobody like your partner. You got attracted to your partner for the way they are the same as you AND for the way they are the opposite of you. Paul and Arlene, a couple married for 8 years, learned how to love each other for who they are. Paul loves sport, watching sport on television and playing sport. Arlene loves reading and studying self-help books. Once they linked their high values and priorities to each other, they understood that by being true to themselves, they give the other one the freedom to be true to themselves. While Paul is watching sport or playing sport, Arlene has the freedom to read her books and study her self-help courses. Both Paul and Arlene put the effort in to love each other for who they are because they both value their relationship.
Your mind is a powerful tool. An ungoverned mind becomes a weapon of destruction. When you think negative things about your partner and you fill your mind with everything they do wrong, you plant weeds in your mind. And weeds have the habit to grow fast and take over. Thoughts of anger, aggression, blame, criticism, and negativity poison your mind about the person. Every person has a balance of positive and negative traits, and when you focus more on the negative characteristics, the positive characteristics go in remission. Make it a healthy habit to remind yourself of what you like and love about your partner. Plant flowers in your mind about your partner. This is a lifelong investment in your relationship. What you are grateful for, you will get more to be thankful about. Speak words of life into your relationship.
Opposites attract and what drives your partner will most likely be something that does not really motivate you. Maybe your partner is inspired by her motherly instincts to look after the children and create a beautiful home while you are driven by your business. We make each other possible in a relationship. A content partner will keep on asking the question, "how does my life partner make me possible?" The two opposites make a whole, and you two create your relationship by your opposites and similarities. Accept what drives your partner by listing how what is driving them is benefitting you.
There is nobody you like as much as your partner; otherwise, you would not have chosen to get married or create a life together. Out of all the millions of people on this planet, you chose each other because you perceived that you see far more likes than dislikes in each other. There is also nobody you spend more time with. Give each other what they want, and they will give you what you want. That is the law of fair exchange. Look out for each other, play together, and laugh together. You will go far to find another friend so dedicated to you.
Intimacy is the cement of a relationship as long as it is seen as only an important part, not the only important part. Many people develop fantasies or nightmares about their sex lives. Intimacy in a relationship works like a see-saw; one partner wants it more than the other one, and then it shifts, and you change roles, and the other one wants it more. There is no magic formula of frequency, it is what works for both of you. Open and honest communication of what you like and dislike and aiming to bring pleasure to your partner will bear fruit. Sex is a driving force, and when there is a perception of a void, it can cause stress and tension. Develop a healthy sex life that brings both joy and closeness.
If you know what your partner likes, surprise them unexpectedly with a love gift, even if it is their favorite chocolate. Create "traditions" in your relationship that communicate the message to each other that you appreciate each other, and you value each other. Learn to speak the love language of your partner and help your partner to know what your love language is. It does not matter what it is, it is unique to you, and your life partner's love language is unique to them. If you do for your partner what is important to them, they will do the same for you. Everybody likes to be appreciated.
Know your partner, love your partner, and appreciate your partner for who they are. Your partner is not you and has their own thoughts, ideas, likes, and dislikes. If you wish for your partner to be who you want them to be, you are creating unrealistic expectations, and you will soon feel angry, bitter, and challenged. Keep on asking the quality question, "how is, who my partner is, benefiting and serving me in what is important to me?" Stop injecting and projecting your values and priorities on your partner and accept your partner as your complementary opposite.
Life is not a fairy tale, but you can create your happily ever after with the right mindset, action steps, and desire to have the relationship that bring out the best in both of you. To be loved and to love is one of lives greatest gifts to mankind.
Author: Ilze Alberts is a life strategist and international educator on strategies to a beautiful life.