Or, 21 Keys to a Happy Relationship.
I got it. It took a long time, but a failure can lead to a lot of knowledge.
Unfortunately, it took a breakup for me to finally put it all together – both figuratively and literally – hence this list. Since I like to write and have always found lists helpful, I had to put this all down in a place I can refer back to.
This isn’t some sort of epihany or a “eureka” moment. Actually, some of these I already knew and am quite good at. One in particular I finally learned, albeit too late. A couple are ones that my now ex-fiancee taught me and I’ll never forget them. It was always difficult for me to put these all together – again, both figuratively and literally – like the couples I love and admire do. Until now. Like I said, failure can breed success. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and…never give up.
1.) Talk to each other, a lot, all the time, every day. Actually talk to each other. Not text, not instant messaging, but real conversations. Especially during the work week. If kids, schedules, circumstances make it hard to do so, decide on a time after work, a standard time every day. Make it an ongoing “appointment,” same time every day.
If you need to, due to crazy schedules, give yourselves fifteen-twenty minutes at a set time every day, at a time when you can both be present and focused. Limit the distractions. Be together. Turn off the TV, designate a room in your house for it, if need be. Hold hands while you’re talking. Dont change the time or postpone; If you’re on the road for work, make the time to make a phone call.
Ask questions – “how are you?” “Is there anything that’s bothering you?” “Can I help you with anything right now?” “What was the best thing that happened to you today at work?” Talk about anything. It might be 20 minutes of laughing, or a few minutes of complaining about work, or laundry or what’s happening with the kids. Ask questions, and above all, listen. Be present.
There’s an element of discipline to this that’s important if there’s a lot of distractions in your life, or your schedule is crazy. This isn’t the only time conversations should happen, of course. But life is hectic and there’s lots of things that can get in the way of communicating with each other.
2.) Always be honest. To yourself, too.
3.) Don’t rely on texting and instant messaging too much. Don’t EVER let typing out sentences become your primary way to communicate. That’s fine for little things, but it should NEVER be used for important conversations.
4.) Learn what your’s and your partner’s love languages are. Seriously. Read it. This stuff makes sense.
5.) Whenever you can, sleep naked. Pretty obvious what the benefits are there.
6.) You can’t say “I love you” too much.
7.) Don’t omit or exclude. Always, always include.
8.) Make her a part of the planning of, and a part of, big decisions and choices. You’ll often need a different way to see something, a second opinion. Collaboration can be fun and relieves the stress that can come up when tackling big decisions. Keep her informed.
9.) Don’t be defensive.
10.) Stay creative. No matter how much you both love to stay home and watch movies, don’t let that be the only leisure activity/hobby you have.
11.) Explore more. Emotionally, physically, geographically.
12.) See number 4
13.) Look forward to things more.
14.) Whenever you can, sit next to each other.
15.) Compliment each other
16.) Complement each other. Think about it.
17.) Follow your heart before your financial statements.
18.) Unless one of you is fluish or has food poisioning, there’s never a reason not to cuddle.
19.) Always say goodnight, always kiss goodnight. Always say goodbye, always kiss goodbye. Even when she’s sleeping.
20.) Never keep score.
21.) If needed, print this out, poster-sized, and put it where you can read it everyday.