What are the ingredients of a successful relationship? In my experience as a relationship coach, I’ve narrowed it down to five fundamental pillars. Using these five pillars as a guide can dramatically improve the health of your relationship.
Five Pillars For a Successful Relationship:
1. Honest and Consistent Communication
Saying that effective communication is essential is a bit of a cliche. It’s also true. Communicating honestly about feelings and needs with your partner fosters the intimacy that helps relationships thrive. Also, pent-up feelings lead to resentment that can drive a wedge between partners.
Communication in a relationship must also be consistent. Happy couples set aside time to talk. Ambitious women have busy schedules. Consider making a plan for quality time with your partner. For example, my husband and I schedule a weekly meal dedicated to discussing our marriage and expressing our concerns. You can also block out time in your day to send a quick text message or respond to messages and calls you missed. Add communication time to your daily schedule. After all, communication is a skill that gets better with practice.
2. Make the Bond With Your Partner A Priority
Couples often seek out coaching because the relationship has lost connection and passion. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of taking one another for granted once the honeymoon phase ends. When this happens, resentment and frustration quickly replace the once loving, caring, and balanced relationship.
Maintaining your bond with your partner requires intentional action. Understand what your partner needs to feel special and notice the little things. Whether you have been together for two weeks, two years, or two decades, we all want to feel seen, appreciated, and desired. Compliment your partner and their contributions to your life. Plan a date night. Volunteer to do the chores or errands your partner usually does. Be affectionate towards your partner and reciprocate the affection shown to you.
Taking your partner for granted becomes a habit. Breaking this habit requires change. Leave yourself daily reminders to show your appreciation until this becomes the new habit. Any intentional effort you put into making your partner feel special will strengthen that bond that initially brought you two together.
3. Decide If You Want To Have Peace or Be Right
Most arguments in relationships are due to differing opinions. You and your partner may be headstrong individuals that argue to prove how right you are. In the end, does it matter? Early in my marriage, I had to adapt my perfectionist side to my relationship. My husband and I do certain chores differently. He has his own method of folding clothes, cooking steak, and cleaning the bathroom. It used to drive me crazy! However, I realized I was happier when I let it go. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, just different.
Choosing your battles wisely is crucial in a relationship. Write down the trivial things that frustrate you, and decide to let them go. Rip up the list, burn it, or crumple it into a ball and throw it away. Each time you see that trivial thing that you let go of, remind yourself that your peace and relationship are more important than that behavior. Create a “let it go” mantra! I think this is an excellent practice for couples to adopt because it represents an agreement not to sweat the small stuff. That way, when disagreements happen, the topics will be significant to the relationship.
4. Create & Live Your Shared Vision
We all have preconceived notions of what a relationship should be. These notions often come from what was modeled for us by family and friends in childhood. Since you and your partner will have grown up in different environments, you will have different assumptions about relationships. Developing awareness as a couple around these assumptions will avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings later. Sit down together and have an honest conversation about expectations. What behaviors are okay and not okay? What boundaries do you have when it comes to relating to the opposite sex? What does a successful relationship look and feel like to you? Agree to expectations that you and your partner rely on as your shared vision for the relationship.
The vision will evolve as the relationship progresses and your lives become more intertwined. For long-term relationships and marriage, consider uniting your goals and dreams so that you both succeed in life. Here’s a great article on setting Relationship Goals: Do You Have Relationship Goals With Your Partner?
5. Take Care of Yourself
Finally, self-care is essential to any successful relationship. If you don’t nurture your mind, body, and spirit, how can you possibly nurture your connection with your partner? As the pre-flight message on every airline says, put your oxygen mask on FIRST. Relationship success depends on both people taking individual responsibility for their health and well-being. No one else can make you happy unless you chose happiness for yourself.
There you have it, the Five Pillars For a Successful Relationship. While they won’t guarantee a forever relationship (only your hard work and commitment can do that), they are vital to relationship wellness. For more helpful information on creating happiness in your relationship, check out The Secret to Forever.