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.
1. Know to agree about disagreeing
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.
2. Be attentive to each other when speaking
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.
3. Be who you are
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.
4. Accepting disputes and differences positively and with positive language
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.