When people ask me how long I’ve been with my boyfriend, they are always surprised with my answer. They start by saying, ‘Wow! That’s long!’ and then they start the question: how do you do it?
How do we do it exactly? Honestly, we do not have a specific formula. We do not have any secret ‘ingredients’ to pass on. We’re just two people who love each other and want to make this work. We’re not relationship experts and we have zero knowledge of psychology, but we’ve been together for seven and a half years, so we must be doing something right.
My boyfriend is not fond of writing and giving relationship advice, so I decide to ponder on this question on my own. I’ve given it a lot of thought and manage to come up with seven keys that I believe have helped us in our long-term relationship. My wish is that they can be of some help to you, too.
Here are the seven keys to successful long-term relationship:
1. Find your own relationship style and stick to it
Every couple has a different style. My boyfriend and I WhatsApp and call each other often. We also meet at least once a week. However that’s not the case with a woman I know and her husband. When they were dating, they rarely communicated during the week, and when they went on dates, they would only spend a couple of hours together. Now that kind of relationship style would drive me absolutely crazy, but it worked well for them.
My cousin and her husband’s date time always involves eating out and going to the movies. My boyfriend and I are more flexible. We like to talk and joke around, so we often just hang out at a coffee place or at my house. We can do nothing and still enjoy it, because what’s important for us is not the activity, but being with each other. I discussed this with my cousin once and she was a little appalled. She was surprised I was not bored to death already.
My point is, every couple has a different style when it comes to making a relationship work. If one style works for another couple, it doesn’t mean it will work for you, too. Find your own, something that fulfill both of your needs, makes you both happy, and makes your relationship stronger.
2. Trust your partner
Without trust, your relationship will never work. Enough said.
3. Communicate effectively
You can save a lot of anger and heartache by communicating effectively. For example:
Ineffective communication: You care more about your friends than me!
Effective communication: I notice that you’ve been spending a lot of time with your friends lately. How about we go on a date this weekend?
Ineffective communication: You never want to help me! You’re a selfish jerk!
Effective communication: I know you’re busy already, but can you please spare some time to help me with my chores? I would appreciate it greatly.
It’s all about choosing the right words, for the right occasions.
4. Solve, not avoid, conflicts
Never go to bed angry with each other. Solve conflicts immediately. If you need time to cool off, take a couple of minutes, hours if you must, but never put it on hold and think that you’ll forget about it and it’ll be all okay in the future. Unsolved conflict will only get bigger and bigger and it can destroy even the strongest relationship.
Let go of the little things, like how a guy never puts down the toilet seat. Is that tiny fact a hindrance worth fighting for? I live with four guys (my father and my three brothers) and they NEVER put down the toilet seat, but me and my mom never let it annoy us. We let it go. LET GO of the tiny, insignificant things and move on to more important things.
5. Do things together
You must invest time to build your relationship. No relationship is strong from the start. It needs patience, hard work, perseverance, and a lot of love.
6. Have each other’s back
Don’t play the blaming game. If there’s a problem in a relationship, chances are both parties are responsible. You must be willing to support each other through every obstacle thrown at you.
Be the rock when your partner’s in need of support. Be the light when he’s lost. Be someone your other half can turn to in happiness or sadness.
7. Love unconditionally
Love his good side. Accept his bad side. Treasure him in every moment, every stages of life.
These seven keys have helped me build a strong relationship with my boyfriend. I’m not in any way an expert, but I hope they can help you, too.