Love starts are different to love stories. We all crave romantic relationships that can bring us the long-term/life-long security, enjoyment and companionship that we deeply crave. So how do we make sure our long-term dating and/ or marriages stay strong? It would be wise to begin by saying:  Being Present, Making It About Us, and Communicating Constantly

‘So the couple finally kiss, walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after’. 

This is the ending of most films, books or TV series. We see it again and again. Which can lead us to believe that relationships are just about finding someone. It’s about the search and the chase, because when we get together we will live happily ever after. 

But learning to maintain a relationship and keep it strong is just as, if not even more, important. Learning to stay in love as life evolves and changes is what we don’t see in films. It’s what people find hard to discuss and seek help for.

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I and others could write endless blogs about this issue, and still not say enough. Relationships are so wonderful and complex. However, we can’t just say nothing either. 

If we want to keep our relationships strong so that our trust, safety, security and enjoyment can continually grow, we need to realise that coasting in a relationship will undermine this goal. We need to keep working at it and prioritising it. This means working on:

  • Being Present
  • Making It About Us
  • Communicating Constantly 

Being Present 

Really, when we sit down and think about romantic relationships, with two flawed people committing to each other, navigating the ups and downs, responding to each other’s needs, it actually is a very complex thing. It’s more complex than our work, yet we often give our jobs more time and attention!

Many prioritise work over their relationship, or assume our relationships will just take care of themselves. We wouldn’t do that at work though; we wouldn’t coast and just let things happen around us. We would be present and engaged. 

We can often allow ourselves to be distracted

Yet in a relationship, we can often allow ourselves to be distracted. We stop being present and making the effort, because we think we can do it later. We think our partner is always there, so we can work on the relationship later, later, later. 

But before we know it, later comes and we have grown distant, allowed tensions to surface and left problems unresolved. 

We need to be present. We need to engage. We need to see our relationship as something to make time for. Putting the phone down, ignoring the stresses of life (easier said than done I know) and our other commitments, and focusing on being together, means the relationship can stay strong.

Making It About Us

Ultimately, a relationship is about two people. When we go into it with a selfish attitude, it won’t work. 

Over time, the temptation to be selfish can actually get harder to resist. At the start, you want to impress each other. Then over time, not through malice, but because of complacency, stresses of life, and tiredness, we can forget to keep making it about ‘us’ over ‘me’. 

I actually find making the smaller sacrifices in my marriage relationship harder now than the big ones; deciding to do the dishes straight away, to remember to send that text because it means a lot to her, to watch the things she prefers, etc. (Read Why I Would Answer Relationship Questions Differently After 5 Years Of Marriage).

These little things remind us that it is about ‘us’ not ‘me’. Remembering to express these realities in our big and small daily decisions is hard to keep up in a long term-dating / married relationship. But we need to not let complacency get the better of us. We need to keep making it about us, otherwise it will fall apart. 

Communicating Constantly

Discussing issues and constantly communicating is key. So many relationships hit hard times because months or years down the line, we just stop talking, stop enjoying each others company, stop working though issues instead of ignoring them. 

We need to communicate when we’re annoyed (Read How To Have A Good Argument). We need to keep going when we disagree (Read We Disagree, Can Our Relationship Survive?)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we put as much effort into every part of the relationship as we do at the start. Relationships are meant to be fun and bring us safety and security. So it’s vital that we keep building marriages and dating relationships that can stand the test of time. 

We can do this by: Being Present, Making It About Us, Communicating Constantly. (Read Why Seeking Love Over Passion Can Sustain Our Relationships)

What else can we/should we be doing? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 19/8/2019