Happy relationships are not due to good luck. They do not respond to a surprising alignment of the planets but rather to a joint effort. A relationship is not a romantic movie – or at least it is far from it. Therefore, to build a solid and happy couple relationship, love is not enough, you have to renew the commitment and the desire to be together one day after another.
The 5 keys to maintaining a solid relationship against all odds
Solid couple relationships are based on communication and trust, although balance, empathy and mutual respect cannot be missing either. Couples who survive the test of time and continue to love each other are not without conflicts, but they know how to navigate those troubled waters, so problems bring them closer.
1. Maintaining a realistic perspective of the relationship
It’s unromantic, but it’s important to realize that that amazing feeling of butterflies fluttering in your stomach won’t last forever. Harboring unrealistic expectations about the couple’s relationship is the most direct path to disappointment.
Instead, keeping a realistic perspective will help us appreciate each moment of shared happiness, being aware that difficult times will also come. All relationships have ups and downs and go through periods of crisis. Expecting everything to be rosy is simply unrealistic and increases the chances that we will throw in the towel at the first hurdle.
2. Finding a balance between interdependence and autonomy
A relationship should not be born out of the need for another person to complete us, but out of the desire to share our lives. When we let go of the romantic ideal of merging and becoming “one,” we learn, as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, to love both distances and togetherness in relationship.
To build a strong and happy relationship, it is essential to find a balance between interdependence and autonomy. It is necessary to connect, but without getting lost in the couple.
For relationships to grow and develop, it is necessary for both people to spend quality time together, doing things that they enjoy and nurture the connection, so that they do not become two strangers living under the same roof. But it is also essential that they find time to be alone and cultivate their passions or interests, a space that will end up enriching the relationship as a couple.
3. Being willing to learn from each other
Happy couples are not like two drops of water, but are capable of accepting each other and even loving their differences. A relationship can only move forward when both respect each other and are not required to make unreasonable sacrifices or are asked to change to conform to a loving ideal.
You have to understand that each person has his/her own needs, dreams, abilities and weaknesses. In fact, to build a solid relationship, you have to be willing to learn from each other. Instead of perceiving differences as an obstacle, they must be valued for what they bring to the relationship.
Many times, the key is to see the other as a mirror and learn from the reflection how we can improve. Therefore, when we feel upset or angry, instead of immediately blaming our partner for his/her supposed flaws, we might ask ourselves why they bother us so much.
4. Choosing the battles worth to fight
Conflict is part of every healthy and committed relationship, so it is essential to learn how to manage it. If the couple fails to solve their problems, it is likely that they fight over and over again, often for the same inconsequential reasons, which will end up wearing down the relationship.
Conversely, strong, happy couples tend to pick the battles worth fighting and realize they can’t win them all. They know that sometimes it’s better to prioritize the relationship than to be right or to just give in.
A good place to start before diving into a discussion that is likely to only uselessly add tension and create distance is to ask yourself, “Is this still going to matter 10 years from now?” If not, it’s probably not worth arguing about.
5. Talk, talk, talk… from mutual respect
To build a solid relationship, we have to communicate a lot. We have to talk in good times and bad. We have to express love, but also discomfort. We must share our concerns and expectations, preferably in the most sensitive, simple and clear way possible.
Communication is the key to all lasting relationships. If we can’t communicate effectively with our partner, if we’re afraid our voice won’t be heard, the relationship can’t work. That is why it is important to talk about everything from the first moment and do it based on mutual respect. Always with the aim of solving the problems, never with the intention of blaming the other.
But, above all things, to maintain a stable relationship that will stand the test of time, we must let the other be who he/she wants to be.