A long and happy relationship can be the key to a happy life. With so many things to think about in managing your relationship, you may find it hard to focus on anything other than day-to-day activities. Although it is difficult to pick the keys to long-term relationship success, some things clearly work. If you focus on them, you can stay with your partner and become happier in your relationship even as time passes.
Consistent negative interactions predict a breakup, note John Gottman and Robert Levenson in a 1992 study in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.” It follows that positive communication is one key to a happy relationship. Compliment your mate often by being specific about behaviors you like. For example, tell him that you admire his patience with your daughter during bedtime or that you are thankful he turns off his cell phone during dinner. When he compliments you, show your appreciation by cooking his favorite meal or putting a secret love note in his briefcase. Celebrate his achievements, like winning a golf tournament, by insisting on a celebratory dinner. If he loses weight, buy him a sexy new shirt.
Listen, Listen, Listen
To foster positive communication with your partner, you have to listen to her, suggests licensed marriage and family therapist Carin Goldstein. Make eye contact with her and tune out distractions when she speaks. Listen for the important points, especially those relating to her sense of self and her dreams. You will then be able to respond positively to her specific wants and desires. Agree with her when she says that it would be good to get that promotion even though it means more hours at work. Give her an unsolicited hug when she mentions her stressful day at work.
Forgive and Try to Forget
It is inevitable that your partner will let you down at some point. He is not perfect and neither are you. When it happens, learn to forgive him. Although you may never really forget, you will have a happier relationship if you try. There is no use in bringing up his past annoyances or transgressions, as doing so will only make it more difficult to move on. Focus on the positive things that he has done recently. Your relationship has likely lasted this long because you have a good man; keep forgiving him and you may have a happy relationship for years to come.
A relationship is like a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger – and happier – it will become. To strengthen muscles, you exercise; to have a happier relationship, become more intimate. Physical, emotional and intellectual intimacy arise from shared experiences. Hug, kiss, caress and have sex often. Have as many intellectual conversations as possible, especially those that cover topics you both consider interesting. Travel, dance and worship together. You may find that you used to spend a lot of time with her on these activities, but because of work, stress, kids, health or age, you no longer spend as much intimate time as you used to. Rekindling intimacy leads to happier times.
Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.
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