Love is a Battlefield. Both Pat Benatar and Jordan Sparks said it, so it must be true! But, it’s not a battle that’s pitted between two people. Instead, it’s more of a battle where the relationship is the reward, and the enemy is the negative forces in our lives attempting to tear happy couples apart.
And negativity doesn’t always come from people. Life is about overcoming adversity and becoming the best person you can be, even in the middle of the storm. Relationships can both help us weather the storm, or increase the duration, frequency and severity of the storm.
The relationships that stand the test of time aren’t the ones that avoid the storms, but the ones where the people in them learn to dance in the rain. If you’re looking to build a powerful, long-term relationship, here’s where I would start:
1. Become Intimately Acquainted with Yourself
Before you can bring someone else into your life, it’s critical that you focus on learning who you are. As time passes, that will change. Experience brings wisdom and the ability to relate better to the people around us, without camouflaging our true selves. Tina Williamson offers an excellent discussion on the masks we wear in her Huffington Post article. I recommend checking it out to understand how the mask we wear says more about ourselves than the world around us.
Dig below the mask, underneath the surface and accept who you are. With the knowledge of and acceptance of one’s self, it’s possible to identify a compatible partner.
2. Invest Time and Resources into Things that Improve the Relationship
I’m sure we could both dig up a thousand articles in Cosmopolitan or Redbook that claim to hold the secret to lasting love and intimacy with our partner. But, in my best relationships, I’ve found that it’s more important to identify the things that matter to us, instead of the world around us.
For example, when I moved in with my partner, we both enjoyed cuddling and being close after a long, hectic day at work. The more comfortable we were in that moment, the better our relationship felt. And, apparently, we weren’t alone. There are multiple reports that show how the quality and quantity of rest impacts the happiness of couples.
Identify the things that matter to you and your partner, and focus on improving every aspect of those specific areas. The investment of time and money in these things (whether material or experiential) will pay the biggest dividends.
3. Be Willing to Hit the Eject Button
To be clear, I’m not claiming that a bunch of money or time will save a bad relationship. In fact, the key to a healthy relationship is the comfort that comes from knowing that you can leave on your own terms. My worst relationships were ones where I felt I had to stay committed, no matter what, for the sole purpose of proving to the world that we belonged together.
Give yourself permission to reassess the relationship on-demand. If the relationship doesn’t make sense, you need to give yourself permission to move on. Without it, you’ll become prisoner to something that could be a lot better without that kind of pressure.
By becoming fully acquainted with who you are, investing in the things that have the most impact on your relationship, and giving yourself permission to end the relationship on your terms, you’ll find that more meaningful, powerful relationships develop for the right reasons in your life. I’ve enjoyed a deep relationship with my partner of seven years, and it’s mostly because I’ve focused on the things that matter, and given up on sticking around for the wrong reasons.
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