Hey Fam! Welcome back and thank you for stopping by. New here? Welcome! As the title states this post is about having a successful relationship.
I have been with my beau, my Bibi, for quite some time. I am filled with so much joy and I am so grateful to be able to say that I get even more butterflies in my stomach now than when we first became an item but not before we put in the work. Our lives are by no means perfect and the circumstances under which we have to love each other are currently very challenging (distance, taking care of a disabled loved one). But because we generally use the tips from 3 onwards, we can approach any obstacle with confidence that we can get around it.
I have summarized our experiences into 6 tips that will help your relationship from the pilot season to the nth season (Do you get it? Someone has to get my jokes… :). If you are just starting out your relationship begin with tip 1. If you are in a committed relationship and you want improve it, start from tip 3 and see if there is anything new that you can incorporate in your love life. If you are here for a good read, start wherever you want.
I want as many people as possible to also experience a loving, rewarding and long-lasting relationship. These tips are not exhaustive by any means but in my opinion form a good base. So let’s jump right in shall we.
Tip #1 – Have similar core beliefs
Whatever your core beliefs are ensure that the other person has similar beliefs or can at least understand them. This involves faith, ambitions or passions and lessons learnt during child-hood for example. I highly recommend doing this during the beginning stages as connecting at the core of your being ensures that later on you do not feel suffocated or that you cannot be your true self around this person.
You do not need to find out about everything in the first interaction and please don’t make it seem as if the person is applying for a job interview, or being interrogated by the police. Just be conversational and let it flow. Speak about a lot of on the surface topics then slide in a deeper topic that is most relevant to what you were speaking about before. For example, if the conversation is about hobbies, turn it into a discussion about ambitions or if it is about the beautiful architecture of church buildings turn it into a discussion on faith.
During the beginning stages differences may also arise and these differences can help keep things interesting and keep those endorphin driven sparks going. These differences, however, should only be surface level such as, favourite t.v. shows, favourite places to travel etc. If they go deeper they may still appear attractive in the beginning when the world is perfect because everything is dominated by your high endorphin levels; but you may find that later on in the relationship, if that spark catches a flammable area it can cause a full blown fire leaving bruises so raw that they may never heal.
In no way will similarities make the relationship last. We all know that separation and divorce are high regardless of how similar or different couples are; but similar core beliefs is a good place to start and will help with navigating the ups and downs of a committed relationship. But a relationship needs more than similarities right? So on to the next tip…
Tip #2 – Love after floating on cloud nine, the butterflies or the feeling that you feel, that you’ve never felt before
If it successfully passes the beginning stages and you think you love this person because of how you feel… Congratulations! Chemistry is a beautiful thing. But do not give in to the feeling just yet, a relationship is so much more than a feeling. I previously discussed how to love, in general, in a previous blog post and highlighted that nothing should deter your decision to love but that does not mean putting yourself through damaging and unnecessary situations. Loving someone may also mean removing yourself from the situation for the benefit of all, especially before it gets to the point of commitment.
So how do you decide to leave or stay at this stage of the relationship? Do a pre-marital quiz of course! Please note, both persons should be willing and desirous of taking the relationship to a deeper level. Even if you do not believe in the act of marriage but want to be in a committed relationship for a very long time, you can take one of these quizzes too.
I know some persons are thinking, whoa, it is way too early for this; but doing this quiz does not mean you are ready for marriage. Just communicate to the other person that the type of questions that need to be answered, to find out if the relationship should go to the next level and has a chance at success, is usually found in a premarital quiz. Do the same set of questions separately, be unapologetically honest and then come together to discuss the results.
Trust me it is better to find out if you really can love this person now rather than later because after the euphoria ends and you have nothing in common but a feeling, sooner or later everything will fall to pieces. It may be even harder to leave at a later date because a child may become involved or way too much was invested financially or because of pride you stay in a situation that slowly kills you inside every day. Don’t be that person. You can check online for questions or I will upload a free quiz in the form of a word document, once 10 or more persons comment ‘quiz’ below.
Tip #3 – Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
Communicate effectively; this tip is probably the most recommended among relationship experts because it is so true. Communication is critical to every stage of a relationship.
You may have a communication issue if ever so often there is a breakdown in your communication channel evidenced by the improper, unwanted or incorrect feedback you get from your partner. A channel comprises of a sender, the message, the receiver, the interpretation and the feedback. The issue may either be with the sender, the receiver or the environment you are communicating in.
To ensure information flows freely, in both directions across the communication channel, I would advise each person to speak as if you only have once chance to sell your partner something, otherwise you go bankrupt; and listen as if you are hearing your partner speak to you for the first time. That is listen without assuming what your partner is trying to tell you. Probably not the best analogies but I hope you get what I am saying; and remember the problem is not usually with what you are saying but with how you are saying it.
Tip #4 – Learn to love the person in the way he or she requires
This is reciprocal. For someone to actually love you in this way, you first have to know your love language and then communicate this to your partner. I find this is best elaborated in Dr. Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. The book quizzes you to determine your language and gives you tips and scenarios involving all love languages and their dialects. He summarizes the love languages into Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Receiving Gifts.
You or your partner’s language may change overtime so having the book is a resource that keeps on giving as you can always refer back to it if you feel there is a change. You may have one love language or have two dominant languages or one primary and secondary language; in all scenarios your love language is very important and your partner should learn to speak it as fluently as possible and vice versa.
Do not expect perfection. Just think how often you make mistakes when using your native speaking language; the same thing applies when your partner is trying to love you in your language. Appreciate the effort and don’t criticize or bash when a mistake happens. Just like speaking a language the more you use it the more fluent you become. So learn that dialect and get to loving. Find out your language for free here; it may require you to enter your email address. For something more in depth about love languages I would recommend getting the book. If you would rather it on your smart device and you have the kindle app click here.
Tip #5 – Negotiate
It is important to learn the art of negotiation after taking the relationship to the next level as at this point the relationship is now becoming a partnership. I use the word negotiate instead of compromise as I find that persons I know use the latter to mean giving up something you may truly desire or need for your partner or for the goodness of a relationship.
It is not about giving up something but finding a situation where both parties are fulfilled. In most cases there is a solution, once you do not take an all or nothing approach or approach the situation with the need to come out with the upper hand. Knowing when to walk away from the negotiation table is also a winning solution when done with mutual respect and not out of frustration and anger. Your relationship is not a competition, you may play board games with this approach but please do not take that to your relationship.
So how do you negotiate? By approaching the table with all outcomes that you are willing to live with and present them. If it is a hard sell also come with solutions to foreseen problems that may arise as no one knows your partner like you do and you can project how he/she may respond to certain situations.
Negotiation also involves discussing, major decisions that have to be taken regardless if it involves any of your partner’s resources or not. Similarly for business partners if a major decision is taken without discussion, there is usually mistrust which may lead to stress and inefficiency and the business may collapse. Both parties should come together and form an ‘agreement’ about what would qualify as a major decision. Which brings me to my next point…
Tip #6 – Contract?
Yes contract. This tip is for those persons who are ready for a lifetime commitment and are willing to enter into a contract.
A contract is a voluntary arrangement between the two parties that is enforceable by law as a binding legal agreement. It can be verbal or written. So think carefully on the terms that you and partner will agree to.
Some persons are satisfied with marriage or what the law states about common law unions, but if you are not satisfied with that, draft up additional terms, then carry it to a lawyer if you need it in writing. Make sure to revisit those additional terms if they no longer suit the relationship.
No one decides the terms of a relationship but the two people involved; absolutely no one else. You may seek guidance from a professional or loved one, such as a pastor, or your parents but the final decision rests with the two persons involved. So do not enter marriage or any other lifetime commitment until you are absolutely ready. Please do not see this as restrictive but as empowering because it frees either person from guessing about what is expected in their relationship.
Bonus Tip – Wing it!
This tip is for when life will throw your relationship a curve-ball and both parties will be tested to what may seem like beyond the limit. In these situations trust your gut and always try to act out of love. If you need to take a step back and gather your thoughts for a moment, do that and then come back and give it your best shot.
I hope someone finds these tips helpful. What do you think of the bonus tip? There have been times when I had to do just that. If you have any questions just leave a comment below and I will answer it. Relationships are not easy but they are rewarding once you have forged a great partnership. Don’t be afraid to mutually go back to the drawing board and work out how to be a better couple. Thanks again for stopping by.4