If you want your relationship to last, then you need to treat your partner right.
If you resent him or neglect him, then he’s not going to be happy in the relationship–and if one person is unhappy, then the whole relationship will fall apart.
In order to avoid that, here are a few habits of couples who last a lifetime:
Researchers in the Journal of Family Issues say of emotional work that ‘Family members do work to meet people’s emotional needs, improve their well-being, and maintain harmony. When emotional work is shared equally, both men and women have access to emotional resources in the family. However, like housework and childcare, the distribution of emotional work is gendered.’ Women are the ones who typically take on the emotional work in a relationship.
The researchers show how important the emotional work is to healthy relationships; partners with a gender imbalance with emotional work tended to see an erosion of the marriage, which ‘posed a health risk to women and helped explain gender differences in psychological distress.’
For a lasting relationship, men need to learn to identify emotional cues from their female partner and help her to release feelings of anger/sadness/fear. When male partners are able to support their companions emotionally, they have the skills needed for a lasting relationship.
1. COMMUNICATE OPENLY
We live in our heads more than most of us realize. We learn to attach meaning to events or family rituals, to words and gestures. Those meanings create a symbolic world in our thinking—a world often unknown to our partner. Conflicts often stem more from reactions we both have to these meanings than the real situation outside our heads. Thriving relationships consists of each partner’s efforts to learn the other person’s meanings and symbols. Some of the most important parts of that inner world are the dreams we have for our life and relationships.
Many of us find it hard to express our dreams, so partners often show love by looking for disappointed hope underneath the argument. As we learn more about each other’s inner world, each of us begins to share the meanings and dreams. We grow to see the relationship serving each other’s dreams and hopes, and spend energy helping our partner fulfill their aspirations for life. A key to happiness in relationships is knowing each other’s meanings and symbols, finding the dreams within conflicts, and creating shared meanings.
2. WORK ON SOLVING PROBLEMS
Every day couples face challenges just to get coordinated and get out the door for work, and they haven’t even discussed what they are having for dinner. Beyond that, larger problems come up with regard to finances, health, family planning, social commitments, etc.
Couples who have a lasting relationship are looking to the future together. They usually share a common goal, for example retiring early or paying off the house so that they have money to travel. A shared goal is a common problem that each partner is working on solving.
3. ACCEPT INFLUENCE FROM EACH OTHER
Many people define power in relationships as the control we have over each other, but another way to define power is the balance of influence each person has on the other. We all ask our partners to allow us to influence them. We ask for help with the laundry, caring about our feelings, or a moment of undivided attention.
Happy relationships consist of not just these efforts to influence or to connect, but accepting those efforts. In other words, if we mostly say “OK” to a request for help (and, of course, then do it) or turn toward our partner when they need us, the interaction affects how we both feel positively. When we fight, there is a special case of the acceptance action—saying “yes” to an effort to repair the breakdown in the relationship.
The best of the repair efforts start off with a soft emotional message that includes a word about how the “repairer” might have contributed to the argument. To say “yes,” we turn our feelings and attention to our partner and take ownership over our role in the argument. Repairing an argument is not so much about solving the problem at hand (some problems in relationship just defy being solved)—it’s about managing a fight to fix the distance arguments could cause. If we can avoid that distance, we can stay connected rather than isolated from one another.
4. REAFFIRM THEIR COMMITMENT
This may sound corny, but really, each day that you choose to stay with your partner, you are making a conscious commitment to them. Let’s face it, you do have free will and you could choose to find another partner. The fact that you don’t do that is a very important decision that you have barely even been aware of making.