10 ideas for having a happy, loving and long-lasting relationship

The Kiss sculpture by RodinIf I said, “In 20 words or less, what do most people ultimately want in life?”, what would you say? Maybe “happy” would be in there somewhere? Or “rich”? Or “famous”? There are, obviously, an infinite number of ways we could respond. If I was asked this question I would say, “Most of us probably want to be loved, wanted, needed, happy, healthy, wealthy, successful, safe and secure.”

For many of us, having a happy, long-lasting relationship – whether it’s a marriage, defacto or another type – is one of the greatest joys and desires in life. We all know that this doesn’t come about simply through luck. Like any achievement, there are things that can help and things that can hinder the success of a relationship.

Keeping the love and happiness alive in a relationship takes time, energy and love itself. Having been in some long relationships, here are my top 10 ideas to help keep the joy and love alive.

Add your own ideas to the comments section below. If they are kind and helpful, they will be added.

1. Have the same values for the things that count
2. Keep the spark alive
3. Make our partner feel like the most important person in the world
4. Little things mean a lot
5. Have mutual and independent social lives and interests
6. Spoil each other
7. Fight clean not dirty, and make-up quickly
8. Treat each other with respect
9. Support each other
10. Show lots of appreciation

1. Have the same values for the things that count

If one partner expects a monogamous relationship and the other wants an open one – and neither will compromise – will the relationship work long-term? Or if loyalty is what a couple both say they value – then one person compromises on this – how long will the relationship last?

When it comes to things like health, spending habits and how to raise children, there often needs to be some common ground, or at least one partner must sincerely accept the other’s conflicting viewpoint. If not, resentment can set-in, endless fights can rage – or couples can avoid talking to each other altogether – and the relationship can be doomed.

2. Keep the spark alive

As we know, relationships go through different stages – courtship, the first signs of love, the honeymoon period… Although the initial “rush” of love often fades over time, keep the chemistry alive to avoid being bored in each other’s company and avoid losing passion so we feel like a sibling, roommate or friend, not a lover.

The things we choose to do don’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Drinking wine in a beautiful park, joining a club together and snuggling-up while watching the sun set over the city skyline – whatever works for both people to help keep that special bond of love alive.

Also, keep laughing. Couples who share the same sense of humour – and laugh together often – are more likely to stay together in the long-run.

…Our marriage is like anybody’s marriage, it goes through ups and downs. It’s a little garden that you have to tend all the time.”

- Bruce Willis

3. Make our partner feel like the most important person in the world

If one partner feels second (or third…) best to the other partner’s parents, friends or independent social life…does this say “I love you lots”? We are sensitive, and can tell whether someone loves us or not, or loves us less than we would like.

Be warm – not cold and distant. If our partner wants affection, give it often, and from the heart. Say “I love you” often, and say it unprompted. Be there for them in times of need. Spend enough quality time with them. If both partners are on Facebook or MySpace, put special photos of both of you together on there to show how much you mean to everyone. If photos of our beloved pets are there, but not our partner – and no hint that our partner even exists – what message does that convey?

…The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved.”

- Victor Hugo

4. Little things mean a lot

As we are aware, little things can add-up and turn into big things over time. If leaving dirty underwear on the bathroom floor for days annoys our partner – stop doing it. Put the empty toilet roll in the bin instead of throwing it on the floor. Trim that nose hair. Whatever little thing it is, find a balance between over-pleasing our partner, and being a doormat, and doing simple things that make them happy.

Whether it’s a hug and “I love you” each night before bed, making a cup of their favorite hot drink for your partner each day, or lovingly saying “I’m sorry” during an argument, little things can add-up and make the difference between long-lasting resentment or extra peace and happiness in a relationship.

5. Have mutual and independent social lives and interests

For a happy relationship, it’s obvious that couples need to regularly do enjoyable things together. We don’t need a total “mini-me” of our self, but without at least one common interest that we enjoy doing together, are we in the relationship for the right reasons? Is it worth staying? Can we find common interests, or re-start past interests?

Having interests outside of our relationship is vital for a happy and long-lasting relationship. Having only our partner to share our quality time with can lead to relying on them too much for our happiness, which is not a good thing.

6. Spoil each other

“Gifts of love” (as I call them) – cards, love notes, flowers… things that say “I love you” – give these from the heart in all stages of the relationship – not just during courtship. Give them sincerely, but don’t overdo it – we don’t want to smother them or get into debt.

7. Fight clean not dirty, and make-up quickly

Long and nasty arguments are a sure way to kill a relationship. Fight in ways that don’t hurt each other and erode the love. There are plenty of techniques around. Read books, blog posts or articles, and ask friends and family for ideas, if we feel the need.

Here are a few tips:

  • Say “sorry” quickly if we think we are wrong – don’t wait for days or never say it
  • Don’t “hit below the belt”
  • Don’t call our partner nasty names
  • Don’t roll our eyes and huff
  • Say things to our partner about what we don’t like about them as calmly, succinctly and as kindly as we can
  • Don’t throw temper tantrums and don’t hit, kick, bite, throw things and so on
  • Word what we want to say in a way that shows we dislike our partner’s behavior, not our partner personally
  • Don’t hold grudges – forgive past mistakes and move on

8. Treat each other with respect

Kindness, consideration and dignity go a long way in keeping a relationship happy. Snide remarks, nasty name calling, put downs, criticism… can destroy love. No one likes to feel belittled, patronised, put-down or second-rate. Boost each other’s self-esteem and self-worth with lots of praise, love and kindness.

If we don’t like something our partner does, find ways to express our feelings so we don’t hurt their self esteem and make both partners think less of each other.

…Love is shown in your deeds, not in your words.”

- Fr. Jerome Cummings

9. Support each other

Support can be emotional, physical, spiritual….Sincerely and regularly boost one another up in words and actions, to show we care about and love our partner. Watch them play sport. Look after them when they are ill. Listen to them if they are upset if they don’t like their job and their boss.

10. Show lots of appreciation

Years ago I read that a main reason why many marriages fail is because at least one partner feels unappreciated in the relationship. I can understand this. If someone often feels taken for granted, they could think: “What’s the point of me doing all of this? They don’t appreciate what I do or who I am”; so they end the relationship.

Regularly and sincerely say “thank you” to our partner for things they do that we like. Even if we might think it’s a small thing, such as folding the washing neatly or bringing the kids home on time, appreciation can mean a lot.

Praise our partner often for their achievements. Tell them their good qualities and the things we love about them. Make them feel like they are the most cherished, special and valued person in the world through both our words and deeds.

Put the time, energy and love into having a long and happy relationship and watch it grow stronger throughout the years. We’ll have a best friend, lover and soul mate all rolled into one – surely one of the most beautiful – and desirable – things in life.

…You know you are in love when after spending time with someone, you find everything they do enchanting, you want to spend every night and day with them and you start to miss them before they even leave the room.”

- Nyomi Graef

…You don’t marry someone you can live with – you marry the person who you cannot live without.”

- Author Unknown

…Sow lies, deception and cruelty in a relationship and observe the sourness that flourishes. Sow seeds of love, honesty, kindness, loyalty and trust, and watch the beauty that blooms.”

- Nyomi Graef

written by Nyomi Graef

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3 Responses to “10 ideas for having a happy, loving and long-lasting relationship”

  1. Mil says:

    We are conditioned to believe that if we are with the right person things will just work out automatically (“and they all lived happily ever after”). No wonder so many relationships fail! I think your next article should be called ‘Debunking Romantic Myths’.

  2. Just what I was waiting for! I was researching articles for our site when I came across your post (on Ten ideas for having a happy, loving and long-lasting relationship | Extra Happiness) which I found on AOL. We would love you to write for us, if curious. I’ve bookmarked this post for future reference. Nice comments here as well – Cheers from Family and Parenting Guide

  3. Masupik says:

    Thank you for a very clear and helpful post. I am definitely a violator of many of these rules. I often find myself conflicted when writing a blog post because I see myself writing more than people want to read, but I feel that I have to do the subject matter justice by thoroughly covering it. I feel that by following some of these rules I end up cutting out important aspects to the discussion. I guess you have to find a balance.

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