Part II: 12 Steps to Lasting Love
7. Talk out your issues with each other, not behind each other’s backs. Why is this so hard? If you have something difficult to express to your partner, it can be scary to say it directly. In the past, you may have experienced rejection, defensiveness, or another form of disconnect when you’ve stood up for what’s important to you. That’s why people often talk to their friends, family members, anyone but the person they need to speak to. If you don’t know how to speak up and still stay connected, take a course, read a book, or work with a therapist or coach on expressing yourself powerfully and kindly. I am passionate about helping couples express their needs without offending each other.
8. Create a mutually agreed upon ‘BILL OF RIGHTS’ to live by. Figure out a code of conduct that works for both of you. There will be issues that come up, such as how you spend money. Decide in advance how you will handle money issues. For example, ‘whenever making a purchase over $200, we must consult with each other.’ This is so helpful in avoiding big arguments in a relationship.
9. Be willing to give up personal space and time for the greater good of the relationship. When you’re melding lives, you have to give up on some things. The things you gain far outweigh the things you give up. Many people marrying for the second time have great difficulty giving up on space and time. This is especially true if he moves into your house. You’re used to having things your way. His stuff is taking up a lot of space in your room! Work out a way to make both of you happy. The more you talk this out, the better. And don’t harp on every little thing. It’s important to be willing to look the other way on the things that don’t matter so much.
10. When making big decisions, be willing to make the ‘we’ more important than the ‘I’. You’re a unit now. If you’ve lived on your own for a long time, it may be hard to think in terms of ‘we’ when you’ve both been used to ‘I’. So, when you buy that new house, make sure it satisfies both of your needs in terms of location, layout, and square feet. You both have to be happy with where you live, how you live, and how you spend your time. Think about the ‘we’ when making any decisions regarding these important issues.
11. Express your love through all your senses. Pay attention to your senses; delicious food, sensuous smells, keeping yourselves looking your best, and touching in ways that feel mutually good to both parties. Couples often take these things for granted after the honeymoon period is over. It’s important to keep all the senses alive and stimulated in order to heighten your relationship.
12. Love your partner as they are. Don’t try to fix, change, manipulate, or control each other. You chose them because of who they are, not who they might become when you fix them. That doesn’t mean you should become complacent and not grow in your relationship. Quite the opposite, but it’s about enhancing who both of you already are at your core, not trying to force them to become someone they’re not.
Wishing you all the best in forming and sustaining lasting loving relationships.
* Thanks to Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick, who inspired this article.