This is sort of a loaded question. Successful relationships can take many forms and mean different things to different couples. But, two things most successful couples can agree on is that successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. So, what does it take to build, maintain, or improve on your current relationship?
1. Expect Changes. What you want from a relationship in the early months of dating may be quite different from what you want after you have been together for a while. (For some couples that may mean a couple months for others a couple of years.) Anticipate that feelings of love and passion will change with time and that both you and your partner will change over time. It’s impossible to know exactly what those changes will look like, but allowing for and valuing change is a healthy outlook that helps create success in relationships.
2. Accept Differences. Sometimes our assumptions that our partner will change, or that we can change certain habits of our partners are just that... assumptions. It is important to be aware and to accept that there are some things about ourselves, or our partners, that will not change. Allowing for and appreciating differences is not just an important part of creating successful relationships, but demonstrates a healthy respect for yourself and your partner.
3. Speak Up. The closer and more familiar we are with our partners the more we expect that they know our wants and needs, but this is often not the case. It is important to keep in mind that your partner is likely having a number of thoughts at any given time and that its impossible for them to know exactly what you are thinking. If something is important to you, speak up and express your want and needs directly to your partner.
4. Develop Your Interests. In successful relationships there is respect for each partner's right to have her/his own feelings, friends, activities, and opinions. It is unrealistic to expect that that your partner can fulfill all of your needs or share the same priorities, goals, and interests as you. So take time to cultivate your personal interests, friendships and goals while working together to define your shared ones.
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