“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Marriage and relationships are the most scrutinized and discussed topics. There is so much information on forming romantic relationships, how can one be sure what is credible? In my opinion, there are a few concrete steps to maintaining a healthy, strong, lasting relationship. Practice complete honesty, utilize open communication, remain an individual, and work together.
Honesty is not only important in romantic relationships, but in all relationships. The most admirable characteristic in a person is honesty. If you remain completely truthful with your partner, you will be able to establish a strong foundation for your relationship because trust is the basis of a good relationship. Without it, the stain of doubt will remain until it consumes the relationship. Telling your partner exactly how you feel is not always easy, sometimes the truth can be hurtful. Nevertheless, lies will always carry a stronger sting. Being honest will prevent arguments and allow your partner to see your point of view. You may not agree, but you both will be on the right path to solving the conflict with honesty.
Open communication is another level of honesty. Communication is so vital in establishing a lasting relationship. It allows both parties to express themselves and receive feedback from their partners. Making life choices together, overcoming challenging situations, and articulating emotions, all fuse together to help the couple form a connection like no other. My husband and I talk about everything. Having the ability to talk to the one you love about any topic is refreshing and illuminating. We will always have different opinions about certain things, but communicating regularly allows us to enlighten each other. We learn something different about each other when we discuss politics, religion, current events, memories, etc. When we do disagree, both of us make an effort to communicate in an effective manner. If things escalate, we both try to give the other space before approaching the subject again. Communication itself is not enough: it must be effective. Allowing each party the opportunity to express their thoughts/opinions without interruption, replying in an unhostile way, and active listening when they are talking are (in my opinion) the most underused tactics in couples. My husband and I are far from perfect, and it took several years to learn these strategies, but we both make an effort to practice them in order to communicate effectively. With open and effective communication, your relationship will thrive in many ways.
Remaining an independent person apart from your relationship and allowing your partner to do the same can be beneficial. Both of you will feel free and independent which will spark a deeper, more meaningful and significant connection. Your partner will be able to maintain his/her identity while remaining part of a unit. Without individual expression, the couple remains a unit constantly with no separation. This causes tension and, eventually, boredom. If a couple maintains their interests, friends, etc., separately, there is a better chance that both parties will be able to stay together longer.
Cooperation is a characteristic that every relationship should have. Though it is an obvious one, many couples do not practice it. At times, people do not realize that their partner is investing more than they are. Love is supposed to be selfless but not completely selfish. Love does not need grand gestures; sometimes it is the smallest effort that makes the biggest impact. Make time to spend together alone and with family, help with chores, make an effort to make the other feel loved, special, and wanted.
Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship is no easy feat. It requires work, dedication, and effort from both parties. As difficult as it may seem, it is possible to achieve. So try to communicate your thoughts and feelings, change how you discuss problems and situations, never give up your individuality, and work together to build a lasting, loving relationship!