The secrets of successful relationships do contain magic, but not the unattainable, fairy tale kind. It’s entirely possible for you to get your relationship back on track, or manifest a new one, once you change your mindset about what a successful relationship is ‘supposed’ to be.
Here’s 8 secrets of successful relationships that can turn the tide in your current relationship or ensure you start the next one off on the right foot.
1. What You Bring To a Relationship is What You Get
Many relationships fail because we have higher expectations of others than we do of ourselves, or vice versa. Successful relationships are built on a mutual understanding of balance, with regard to what both people give and receive.
If, for example, you’re constantly putting yourself last and sacrificing everything you want, in order to make your partner happy, you’ll eventually foster resentment and frustration; for which your partner will be the prime target.
Likewise, if you never compromise, never see your partner’s point of view or never try to understand their position, they may start resenting you. In both scenarios, the balance has been tipped out of whack. Realise that what you bring to a relationship and what you take is a balancing act requiring both people to have acceptance, encouragement and supportive intentions towards each other
2. Curiosity is Key
Imagine how relationships tend to be in the first year of dating. You’re both interested in each other’s lives, you have fun together, you laugh, you play and you indulge in the passion that attracted you to each other in the first place.
Now fast forward a few years. Are you still playing? Do you still hold hands, kiss and hug for the sheer delight of it? When you talk, do you try to continuously grow and learn, rather than remain fixed in a pattern that’s been acquired over time? Do you still feel excited by new things you both experience, or do you unconsciously suffocate your partner’s growth by wanting things to remain the same? Do you still speak to each other with respect and kindness?
Being curious about life and relationships is the key to constant growth and evolvement, which is one of the most important elements in a successful relationship. The reason why the first year is so fantastic, is that we’re fascinated with each other.
3. The ‘Logbook of Failures’ Doesn’t Exist
The ‘Logbook of Failures’ rears its ugly head when we have arguments that go like this, “you were flirting with Sally last night” to which your partner’s response is, “so what, you were dirty dancing with Alan last weekend.”
When you think back to primary school, this is exactly how we dealt with fights, because we didn’t, at that stage, have the tools yet to discuss our emotions very successfully and we thought that what other people did, directly affected what we did.
If you’re regularly having arguments like this, one, or both of you, is feeling mass resentment and displaying a total lack of individual responsibility. If this continues, each fight you have will be nothing more than a series of verbal attacks based on old experiences, simply because neither of you wants to take the blame for your actions, perceived or otherwise.
“In a successful relationship, the blame game is well and truly left where it belongs – on the school ground.”
In a successful relationship, the blame game is well and truly left where it belongs – on the school ground. If feelings of disappointment arise due to events or actions, both partners express the emotion, with the view of clearing the air, compromising and moving forward towards growth. Neither partner actually wants to cause the other pain, by using blame or past mistakes, just to make themselves right. If you have a ‘Logbook of Failures’, pluck it out of your mind, right now, and burn it.
4. You Can’t ‘Keep’ Another Person
One of the most common reasons for relationship failure is that creeping, thorny vine called ‘ownership’ that slowly engulfs and suffocates everything it strives to take over. This works both ways, in that one or both partners start to expect that everything the other does must in some way include them, or that permission must be given or that only things involving the ‘couple’ are acceptable.
When the ‘controller’, doesn’t feel in control, they try to control their partner with emotional manipulation, be it via jealousy, passive-aggressiveness or outright domination. All because they’ve put their partner in a box that says, ‘mine’.
It’s totally impossible to ‘keep’ another person, no matter how hard you may try to. Knowing that you can’t actually keep another person, lets relationships breathe and progress on a natural journey, as both people foster their own lives as well as each other’s. Successful couples are separate individuals, on a journey together. They enjoy and encourage each other’s progress through life, rather than try to destroy it for selfish, insecure or jealous reasons.
5. Intention is The Most Important Thing
We’re not always going to be happy with everything our partner says or does, but in successful relationships, both people have the honest intention to view their partner in a positive light, rather than immediately criticizing the negative because of their own beliefs.
“Successful relationships are based on honest communication … even when you’re disagreeing.”
When we deal with problems based on assumptions, we never get the clear picture because we don’t allow ourselves to fully listen to it and explore it. Successful relationships are based on honest communication and a sincere intent to listen, learn and grow from the partnership, even when you’re disagreeing.
6. Differences Are Invigorating
It’s common in relationships to like different things, hold different opinions and have a different fashion sense. The funny thing is, in the beginning of a relationship, it’s the unique things about each other that we find compelling. For example, the fact that your man wears bright orange jeans, just because he loves them, may have turned your eye and said something to you about his wonderful, flamboyant nature, when you first met.
As the months go on, your man shows up to a family function with the orange jeans on and you worry that your reserved aunt might think he’s a bit weird. Next thing you know, you’re actively telling him not to wear the orange jeans, in case someone else doesn’t like them. After all, you don’t want to be that girl going out with the strange ‘orange jeans’ guy.
Successful relationships are those based on cherishing and encouraging each other’s unique way of life, rather than trying to change it. Leave the opinions of other’s, and even your own unnecessary prejudices, out of your relationship. Don’t make the mistake of trying to change your partner to fit into your world. Remember that ‘quirk’ was something you once loved, not something to be eradicated because you changed your mind about.
And besides, his love for orange jeans is not, actually, any of your business.
7. Fighting Is A Fair Battle Ground
Have you ever had one of those relationships, where every time you fight, one of you is threatening to walk out or break up with the other? Threatening to break up with your partner, as an attempt to ‘scare’ them into agreeing with you, no matter the reason, is outright bribery and manipulation. It’s an unhealthy attempt to secure the upper hand in a scenario, it creates insecurity and it completely erodes trust.
After all, if you, or they, really were ready to walk out because the relationship was simply not working for whatever reason, you’d do exactly that. There’d be no threat of it, because the decision would already be made. Threats, in most circumstances, are a ‘threat’ because they’re empty of any sort of action, except deliberate manipulation.
“Fighting fair means leaving out emotional manipulation and selfish attempts to obtain power over one another.”
All couples, at some stage or another, are going to fight, argue, disagree or stubbornly butt heads over issues and this is can be a natural, healthy way of clearing the air and moving forward. The difference with couples in successful relationships, is that they aim to fight fair at all times. Fighting fair means leaving out emotional manipulation and selfish attempts to obtain power over one another. Fighting fair is allowing each other to express feelings, words and emotions in a safe environment of trust and acceptance, with the sincere intent of solving problems.
8. Connecting is Everything
Remember when the whole world disappeared when you first fell in love? Chances are, you still managed to get the washing done, go to work and do the groceries, but the relationship took centre stage. While it’s not always going to be at the forefront of your lives, a successful relationship means making a deliberate effort to connect, no matter what else is going on.
Staring into each other’s eyes, hugging for no reason, dancing like maniacs in your pyjamas in the lounge room – whatever form it takes, it’s the most important ingredient in a successful relationship. Connection is what brings you together, not a sense of ownership, belonging or even security.
None of us were born to spend our lives trying to fit into someone else’s. We’re human beings, not human ‘twosomes’. If you think like this, you’re missing the entire point of relationships. We have relationships to help us grow, guide us and bring us opportunities to see life through someone else’s eyes.
We have them to experience life together, love each other and to bring happiness to our individual journeys by taking them together. Successful relationships are those that enhance our lives, even in the bad times, rather than become the cause of the bad times.
The magic ingredient, when all’s said and done, is connection, through unconditional love, no matter what life brings.