13 Life-Changing Tips For A Happy Long-Term Relationship, From Experts
For many people, it sounds satisfying to have a life-long partner to share the journey with, but you also don't want to end up like those stereotypically-miserable married couples who bicker endless. To avoid this plight, you'll want to know all the life-changing tips to ensure a happy, long-term relationship. Although every couple is different, there are a number of habits and mindsets that apply across the board, and keeping in them in mind can help you cultivate the type of serious relationship you desire.
"New love is a dopamine party for the brain, giving us that happy, high, addictive, infatuated feeling," says psychotherapist Tristan Coopersmith over email. "Then we transition to a more oxytocin-dominated love signified by feelings of security, devotion, and trust. We need to work to continue emitting oxytocin. We need to intently listen, kiss, hug, massage and notice each other. So often in relationships we begin to take each other for granted, falling victim to routines and skipping over the things that really water our love. Essentially a relationship is like a garden, if you water it, it grows, if you don't, it withers."
If you're in it for the long-haul and want the happiest relationship possible, consider these 13 life-changing tips for a happy, long-term relationship.
1. Accept Who Your Partner Is
You chose your partner for a reason, the good traits as well as some of the less favorable ones. "Accept the characteristics that you don’t love so much and try to help your partner work on them," says relationship expert Vikki Ziegler over email. "But know the likelihood of those not-so-great traits changing is minimal and accept them as is."
2. Let Them Know How You Expect To Be Treated
Everyone has different standards of what they expect from someone else, and since your partner isn't a mindreader, it's important to be clear about what you expect. "We must use the divine power of our voice to communicate clearly what works for us and what doesn't work for us," says Coopersmith. "This is how we get what we need and want in our relationships. It is so much easier than hoping they can guess their way to understanding us."
3. Focus On The Good
Paying attention to all the negative things your partner does is going to train your brain to always think about those things. "If you think of the good, say for example all of the sweet things your partner does like sending funny texts, you will become infinitely more grateful and eventually grow more connected because the brain will perceive this as a safe relationship that it should have more of," says Coopersmith.
4. Don't React To Every Emotion
Feelings like sadness, hurt, or anger are inevitable throughout our lives, but learning how to respond to them is crucial when it comes to your relationship. "Our negative emotions do not have to inform how we respond," says relationship therapist Evie Shafner over email. "I think many people actually don't believe it is possible, yet the most important thing you can learn in order to guarantee a lifetime of happiness with your partner is to be able to respond from the part of your brain that is making a choice to stay conscious, calm, and kind when we feel hurt, disappointed, let down."
5. Learn To Forgive
Mistakes will inevitably be made, but you have to learn when to let go. "Find it in your heart to truly forgive your partner and not bring up the issue that arose so that you can heal and move on," says Ziegler. "It will save you a great deal of angst and wasted anger if you can truly make amends and put the past in the past."
6. Maintain Physical Contact
Intimacy goes beyond just the bedroom. "It is crucial that you continue to touch, hug, and be intimate with one another daily," says Ziegler. "It is the crux of a loving, longterm connection, and it does not mean only sex. A physical bond is necessary to stay intimately connected as partners."
7. Publicly Support One Another
Happy and committed couples have each other's backs both at home and around others, even if they don't always agree on everything. "Great couples are supportive of each other in public," says relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish over email. "They don’t tear each other down in public. They handle private issues in private."
8. Don't Keep Secrets
Be open with your partner: Secrets not only can lead to a breach of trust, but they can also be an emotional burden for those who carry them. "There are no hidden issues among great couples," says Walfish. "They are vulnerable with each other. Both partners open themselves up to the other person completely."
9. Use "I" Instead Of "You" During Arguments
Knowing how to have healthier arguments can also increase the longevity of your relationship. "Use 'I' statements attached to a feeling instead of 'you' which puts the focus on your emotions rather than blaming the other person," says therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW over email. "For example, say 'I feel upset when I come home from work and there are dishes piled in the sink' as opposed to 'You always leave your dishes in the sink and I'm sick of it.'"
10. Set Boundaries
Make your boundaries clear, whether it's about dealing with in-laws, friends, or other people involved in the relationship. "Do not share personal details of your relationship with others such as fights or your sex life," says Hershenson.
11. Consider Your Partner In Your Decisions
"Recognize that every decision you make will impact your partner in some way," says couples consultant Lesli Doares over email. "Taking the consequences to them and the relationship into account is important. To do this, you need to have conversations about what is important to each of you and the relationship itself."
12. Keep Up With Your Self-Care
Pay attention to your partner, but don't forget about yourself in the process. "Practice good self-care and don't rely on your partner too much for affirmation and identity," says psychologist Dr. Charlynn Ruan, Ph.D. over email. "If the individuals in the relationship aren't seeking to be the fullest and most complete versions of themselves as individuals, there will be problems. Two empty glasses can't pour water into each other. And you give and give without ever considering yourself, you start to feel resentful and demanding."
13. Have Shared Goals & Adventures
If you're going to spend a long time with each other, you want to form a life together. "Have shared goals and adventures," says Ruan. "Do things where you'll get to see things in each other that you wouldn't otherwise. Start a side business, travel to new places, or take up a challenging shared hobby."