Relationships are hard. They’re full of highs and lows, wins, and failures. When two people come together — no matter how compatible or in love they may be — it takes plenty of work to bypass the frustration, anger, and annoyance that inevitably comes your way.
What gets couples through the hard times is love, but how do you make love last when half the time you want to strangle your significant other?
Relationship researcher John Gottman found that happy couples create a 5:1 ratio of positive and negative interactions, meaning that as long as there are five times as many positive interactions between partners as there are negative ones, the relationship is likely to be stable. Unhealthy relationships and unhappy couples tend to have more negative than positive interactions.
Here are some tips to make your relationship last forever.
1. Make them smile
Every day make it a point to make your partner smile. If they love it when you help out in the kitchen, load the dishwasher and prep dinner. If it makes him or her feel special when you give them little gifts, pick up a treat on your way home from work. Make it your mission to discover or re-discover what makes your partner smile. Then use it to let them know you love them or are thinking of them daily.
2. Make love your priority
When you put all your energy into your work, you see results. The same goes for your relationship. If you put it on the back burner and ignore it to focus on your friendships, career, or social life, you’ll feel the impact in your relationship. After taking care of yourself, your relationship should be your next priority. Like anything else, it needs to be tended to and nurtured in order to remain vibrant and alive. Next time you’re tempted to stay late at work or blow off your significant other for happy hour with your friends, think again. Only when your relationship is in tip top order should you begin focusing your energy and attention on other aspects of your life.
3. Maintain your identity
If you give everything to love, you may lose yourself in your relationship or the other person. This only leads to resentment in the end. Make time for yourself and pursue your own goals. Do things without your partner and focus on participating in things that make you happy. That happiness will spill over into your relationship. If you expect your partner to give you happiness, you’ll end up disappointed. The key is committing to becoming your best possible self and sharing the joy and love that follows with your partner.
4. Let things go
One of the hardest things in a relationship is keeping your mouth shut when your significant other does one of those million little things that drives you crazy. Of course you’d rather not listen to your partner smack their lips as they chew gum or leave their dirty socks on the floor — again, but when you point out everything that annoys you, you’ll only end up feeling like a nag. A relationship already has enough issues. Save your energy and annoyance for the big ones.
5. Take responsibility
When fights happen, immediately accept responsibility for what you did wrong. Neither of you are perfect and chances are likely you said a cutting comment or made a harsh judgement. A sincere apology goes a long way in mending any argument and will encourage your partner to reciprocate. Once apologies have been said, make an effort to forgive and let it go.