Although you both pictured growing old together, making a long-term relationship work can seem more challenging as the years go by. Spending an extended period of time together can result in conflict and decreased tolerance for the other person. There are key factors that make long-term relationships work in spite of the difficulties and challenges that arise.
Over the years, couples spend less time having quality conversations, and their communication often becomes a superficial exchange of information. According to a study published in the September 2004 issue of "Family Process," researchers found that negative communication is linked with lower relationship satisfaction and higher rates of divorce. One of the key factors in making your long-term relationship work is to continue to have meaningful, positive and open communication. Allow plenty of time each day where you can process your day with your partner and have a real conversation. Have open conversations about future plans, finances, disagreements and other important issues.
Sacrifice and Compromise
A key factor in maintaining a long-term relationship is learning to accept each other as unique individuals. Learn to negotiate and compromise when both of you want different things. Be willing to sometimes make sacrifices for your partner. It is also important that you feel comfortable expressing your own wants and needs in a positive and nonconfrontational manner. "Expect that sometimes your two paths will diverge. Express your needs at those crucial moments, but always find a way to do so respectfully and with an open mind," recommends psychologist John M. Grohol, founder and CEO of Psych Central, in an article for psychcentral.com.
Trust Your Partner
Trust is the building block of every healthy relationship. Everyone needs to feel secure, loved and respected in a relationship. Building trust requires work from both sides. John Gottman, a marriage researcher and co-founder of the Gottman Relationship Institute, suggests on the Greater Good Science Center's website that awareness, responsiveness, tolerance, understanding, nondefensive responses and empathy are ways to build trust in your relationship.
Have Some Fun
Couples who have fun together are more likely to stay together. As the years go by, couples often find that they are slowly drifting apart. It is important to find activities that both of you enjoy even if your personal interests are changing. Join a sports team, a club or a social group in which both of you can participate together. Plan frequent outings or date nights where you can enjoy individual time with each other. Take an interest in your partner's hobbies and try to involve him in yours.