72 days. 9 days. 122 days. 55 hours. It may seem that these are random periods of time just tossed into an article, but they actually all have something in common that quite often finds itself inserted into pop-culture discussion; especially when the topic is the current state of dating and relationships. Can you guess what it is?
If you guessed these are all different lengths of celebrity marriages, you would be correct.
Now, I understand that Hollywood couples are not exactly the ideal measuring point of modern relationships, but they do give us a glimpse of what our younger generations are learning from and – seemingly – are emulating. We do often see short lived relationships among our peers and the apparent inability to form long-lasting bonds that will keep people together in the long run.
So in a world where marriages are shorter-lived than college educations, how can we build real, lasting love?
Never stop dating each other.
I speak of romance and courtship often because I believe these are things that require two partners putting in effort for each other in order to build a foundation for a relationship. But what is also important is to continue doing these things once you have actually entered into a relationship.
Doing special things for your partner, regardless of how big or small, should not cease as a relationship develops. In fact it should actually increase as this person becomes a bigger part of your life over time. You learn more about them and their preferences, and therefore have more opportunities to show them your love in ways you know they will enjoy and appreciate.
Never let the distractions of your life get in the way of your love, and never let your teammate forget how much they mean to you.
Keep the mood positive and do fun things together.
Life can be challenging and difficult, even depressing at times. We get bogged down with work or a commute or a business or schoolwork or whatever it may be – our relationship should not be another source of stress for us, but a release from the things that weigh us down.
It is important that we don’t allow the burdens of life become an anchor on our relationship, but instead to allow the light of our relationship to show us through the fog. Plan fun things to do together, watch a funny movie, always do what it takes to make your partner smile.
Being in a relationship should be fun, exciting, and fulfilling, regardless of what’s going on in other areas of your life. If it’s not, then what’s the point of being in one?
Never be emotionally closed off to them.
As an extension to the previous point, not everything can be fun and games. Of course there are going to be challenges you both face in a relationship and your partner needs to know that you are emotionally available to deal with it and talk about it.
We need to work to be on both sides of the fence with this. Meaning, he/she needs to know they can come to us to speak about anything they need to, and they also need to know we will go to them for the same reason. This gives a sense of security and comfort to the very important aspect of communication, which a relationship cannot strive without.
This also includes showing them appreciation for not just what they do, but who they are. The person you love should know you love them. They should feel that you love, respect, and value them – and these things only happen if you are emotionally open enough to show it.
Understand how strong your love can be.
What is a relationship without the true belief that you two belong together and can take on the world together? What is a relationship without the powerful knowledge that you are a team, and are in this together? What is a relationship without the security of knowing you are not alone on your journey and can get through anything with them by your side?
This point intertwines itself with the others because the expression of your love is very often a necessary catalyst of these beliefs. For example, if someone does not feel in their very core that you have an unwavering love towards them, how are they supposed to find truth in any of the statements in the above paragraph?
We need to work to develop this sense of stability and strength alongside our partner. And when we both do our part in doing so, it reinforces their willingness to stand by you and conquer any challenge you face – together.
Be more than just their lover – also be their best friend.
Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Change ‘marriages’ to ‘relationships’ and the sentiment still rings equally as true. My similar belief to his is that you can have a friendship without a relationship, but you cannot have a relationship without a friendship.
When you are sitting on the couch watching a movie, or at a family event, or at a party with friends – your attraction to each other is not what is going to make these things enjoyable. It will be the friendship you have created. Not only the willingness, but the desire to have this person experience all parts of your life with you, and you with them. When we have a ‘best friend,’ we always want to be talking to them. To be around them. To share in life’s joys with them and to stand by their side during challenges.
People are often hesitant to form friendships with someone they are interested in intimately because they are afraid they will end up as ‘just a friend,’ but the truth is that friendship is all that’s there in the times you are not being intimate with each other.
With these building blocks in place we are able to form a foundation for a house that will weather the storms of life. A relationship without this foundation is like a house built on sand – it may look good from the outside, but there will be nothing in place to hold it together when times get tough.
We cannot set a fire ablaze and expect it to continue to burn on its own. Eventually it will start to fade and we need to stoke it, add more to it, and pay close attention so it doesn’t burn out while we are not looking. If we applied this same principal to our relationships, not so many of them would be burning out.
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