I thought today was a good day to share how to keep a relationship strong and happy. Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is one of my favorite days because we get to celebrate LOVE. And yes, I know love should be celebrated every single day (and we do), but today just feels extra special. I text all my girlfriends and nieces, send little gifts and of course I always do something special with G. I’m not going to miss on the chance to have a special date with my love.
Even if you are single, I think it’s important to think before hand what you are looking for in a life partner. In my humble opinion, it’s almost essential that you know how to keep a relationship strong and happy before you even jump into one. Sometimes with these things, it’s best to know beforehand, so you nurture your relationships since the beginning.
A little bit of my story…
I’m not a relationship expert. I’ve only had two. A crappy one that lasted almost 13 years and a really good one for almost 4 years and counting. Even though I’m not an expert I can tell you how a bad relationship looks like vs. a really good one.
I decided to publish this blog post because for most of my life I was surrounded by unhealthy relationships. I was told a million times that what I saw in the movies wasn’t possible in real life. I saw people happy and in love and I was told it was all fake, and for the longest time I believed it. I dreamed about G and what we have for years (way before we met), but honestly I always thought it was just that; a dream. Turns out it is possible to have a healthy relationship that’s centered in LOVE, trust and respect, but it requires a lot of hard work.
I had no idea how to keep a relationship strong and happy, because I never had that before. But after reading a lot about it and of course, putting all those things into practice, I’m very happy to share all of this advice with anyone interested.
If you are reading this post…
I want you to know that real, beautiful, pure love does exist. DO NOT SETTLE. Don’t confuse Mr Right Now with Mr Right. It is so much better to be alone than with someone who makes you feel alone. Wait for that someone who rocks your world. For that person that you feel you really cannot live without. Wait for the real thing, but do the hard work of healing and forgiving before you meet him/her. You too have to get ready for that special someone. Do the hard work of figuring out what you can give and contribute to the relationship, and do your homework on how to keep a relationship strong and happy.
Ok so without further ado…
Here are some of the things we do that (we feel) make our relationship super special. Please don’t take it as something I’m bragging about because it’s not the case at all. Every relationship is different, but I think the healthy ones are all pretty similar. They are centered in love, respect and trust.
Besides a lot of patience and the 3 things mentioned above, here are some of the things we believe in and work really hard on, to make sure we both stay happy:
How to keep a relationship strong and happy – 10 things to keep in mind
1. Always have something to look forward to.
Whether big or small, we always seem to have something to look forward to. We connect while we plan it and think about it. We talk about our upcoming plans all the time and I think it’s a great way to dream together and connect with each other.
I encourage you to plan stuff together. Dream about them, talk about them together. Right now we have something HUGE coming up (our trip around the world), but that’s not going to happen for a while, so in the meantime we try to plan little activities here and there and we sit down and plan our trip and dream about it constantly. It keeps us connected in such a unique way.
2. Remember you are both on the same team.
You are 2 individuals who are part of ONE team. There’s no keeping scores of rights and wrongs. If one of you is struggling or frustrated, that hurts the whole team, so it’s really important to talk about the things that are bothering or affecting you, for the sake of the team.
Learn how to talk to each other, but most importantly learn how to listen. These days we are all so focused on being heard, that we forget how to just sit down, be quiet and just listen.
3. Fix the little things while they are still little.
I think this is one of the main things we try to do. I heard this at church a long time ago and I never forgot about it. If you don’t talk about the little things while they are still little, they tend to build up and accumulate and one day you just explode. Have you been there? God knows I have, and when I have been in that situation, I always trace back to something small that I didn’t take care of when I had to. Do not let things to build up. This damages your relationships like you have no idea.
4. Have inside jokes.
This seems kind of silly, but seriously, inside jokes are the best. I think it’s such a great way to connect and relax. We have the craziest inside jokes that only we know about and exchanging those looks that only we understand is the best feeling ever!
You should be able to be 100% yourself around each other and to me, the dorkier the better LOL. G is the same way ;)
5. Don’t take each other for granted
I always think that everything I have can be gone tomorrow. I know this sounds extreme, but it’s true. We have zero control of the future and I know some people may argue about that, but think about it… You really don’t know if you’ll make it to work safely or if you’ll come back home every day. You hope you will, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen, so don’t take anyone for granted.
Make sure to say ‘I love you’ every single day. Make sure to kiss, to hug each other. Don’t leave those things for special occasions. Every day is special.
6. Have shared dreams
I recently published a blog post about planning your future (you can read it here). I think it’s so important to talk about what you both want and where do you see yourselves. Not only talk about it, but makes plans on how to get there.
Having those dreams together it’s something to look forward to and working towards it together makes it even more special. Just imagine when you achieve these things… what an accomplishment as a couple! I can’t wait to see how that feels.
7. Expectations can be your worst enemy
I’m going to do my best to explain this one because I know it can be confusing, but I think expectations can really ruin a relationship. Let me give you an example:
I love receiving flowers and G is really good about buying them at least once a month, but one Friday night, for some reason I was expecting G to come home with flowers. Like I convinced myself that it’s been a while and I just ‘knew’ he was coming home with said flowers. Guess what? G came home that night with no flowers! I was sad and upset, and it was all because of something I created in my head. I had expectations, but here’s the thing… He didn’t know about any of them!
It’s ok to have expectations, but just make sure they are reasonable. Also, make sure to talk about them. Your partner cannot read your mind. You both have to communicate. And if you are with someone who doesn’t talk much, just ask. You’ll be surprised how much someone who ‘doesn’t talk’ can say if you ask the right questions.
8. Learn how to fight
I read this on Danielle’s Moss blog a long time ago, (even before I met G) and I thought it was brilliant. Learn how to fight? WOW, this has made a huge difference in our relationship and we established our way of fighting since day 1.
Fights happen, it’s normal. You are 2 individuals and you are going to have differences. However it’s not ok to raise your voice at each other or to say mean things. Those things can hurt for a long time. We said since day 1 that we wouldn’t yell at each other and also no cursing when we fight. I know it sounds lame, but it really helps with the tone of the conversation. Whenever we have a disagreement we just sit down and talk about it. If it’s something big, we’ll talk about it more than once, until it’s fixed.
That’s another thing… problems sometimes don’t get fixed with just one try. You might have to have a lot of conversations about the same thing until it’s fixed and forgiven. Some things just take more time and that’s ok. Be patient.
9. Get to know each other really well
This seems so obvious right? But let me tell you that I didn’t fully know G until we learned about the Enneagram (I wrote about it here). I am a 1 and he is a 9 and I’m already on book #4 learning about relationships.
The Enneagram is great because it focuses on the WHY and not the WHAT. Why we do the things we do, why we act a certain way, healthy and unhealthy behaviors for each number… It’s such a powerful tool to improve yourself and your relationships, not only the romantic ones. I can’t recommend it enough.
Learn about it and you’ll see things through a whole new lens. It has helped me to be more empathetic, which I think is key to having healthy relationships with everyone around you.
PS: Learning each other’s love language also helps a lot. There’s a book called ‘The 5 love languages’ and it’s very good!
10. Make time for each other and do things together
We have a list of things that make each other happy and we try to do stuff from that list constantly. It’s so important to talk about these things though. Your partner cannot read your mind! Never forget that.
I talk with G about everything… whether is easy, funny, sad, happy or hard. Communication is key… You need to know how to listen and you need to learn how to communicate your feelings effectively.
We are so different. VERY DIFFERENT. I’d even say we are polar opposites. And even though we haven’t been together for that long (a little over 3 years), I think if we stick to these things for the rest of our lives, we’ll be fine. I sure hope so. We really are doing our best.
I hope you find this post useful. It’s advice from the bottom of my heart.
Please don’t compare your relationship with anyone else’s. Every relationship is different, but as I mentioned above the really good ones are mostly centered on the same values; love, respect and trust. At every level.
I believe the world could be a better place if more people knew how to keep a relationship strong and happy. We would all be happier, focused on purpose and giving better examples to the future generations.
Again, I don’t consider myself a relationship expert, but I’ve been in a really bad one and now I am in a really good one and it’s quite different. I’m so happy I didn’t settle and that I followed my heart because it brought me to Gordon. All the pain was 100% worth it and giving someone my whole heart despite being afraid, was worth it too.
Thanks so much for stopping by and hope you have a great Valentine’s Day with your loved ones!
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Other relationship related posts you may like:
Enneagram types explained – What I’ve learned about life and relationships thanks to the Enneagram.