Studying committed relationships has been an interest of mine long before I became a relationship counselor. Most of us never had good role models with regard to what makes a relationship work. We’re all familiar with what doesn’t work, but we are still puzzled as to what is required to have a sustained, loving relationship.
A significant component in a successful relationship is respect. Without it, a relationship is doomed. You cannot belittle your partner and expect love to prosper. Awareness of your significant others’ individual reality should be a top priority.
Another crucial ingredient in a committed relationship is timing. That means that if the boss just gave your significant other ten extra hours of work, it is not the time to greet him or her at the door complaining about a problem. Timing is crucial.
I cannot say enough about the value of a shared worldview. The lens though which we view and interact with our world cannot be discounted if we are to have a successful relationship. If one of the people in the relationship is an Atheist and the other is a devout Catholic, that could be a breeding ground for disaster. But it doesn’t have to be, providing both individuals in the relationship are respectful of each others’ points of view.
A person’s philosophy and the way they interpret themes, values , ethics and emotions has more of a bearing on our relationships than we might think. I believe that because so many of us get swept away by our desires, we neglect what’s really important in a mate.
Every relationship is bound to go off the track at some point. In order to keep it on track , both parties in the relationship must be committed to working on it. If both people are not fully committed and only one side seems to be doing all the work, it is not a good sign for a positive outcome.
Moreover, both parties have to be open to changing behaviors that are detrimental to the success of their relationship. I cannot begin to stress how important it is for couples to be open to listening about behaviors that may be toxic to the relationship. In other words, defensiveness is a enormous barrier to good results. I advise both men and women to really take in what their partner has to say, and be open to what they personally might be doing to sabotage the relationship. However, one can only be receptive to what their partner is saying if it is stated in a gentle, loving, and non-blaming way.
Lastly, laughter is a great diffuser when we are able to see how silly or intractable we might be at times. Laughing together creates closeness, while being in a constant state of seriousness is likely to erode a relationship.