All Couples That Last Do These 5 Things, According to a Relationship Coach

All Couples That Last Do These 5 Things, According to a Relationship Coach

Making love stay requires work, but with these tools, it'll feel effortless

Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Discovering your person can feel like a dream come true. That’s why it may catch you off guard when fear unexpectedly creeps in.

Intrusive thoughts arise: Would they love me if they really knew me? Is this relationship too good to be true? Will they leave me? Can this last forever?While the anxiety may feel overwhelming, this fear often accompanies relationships and doesn’t necessarily signal problems. Love inherently carries a dual nature–when you’ve met the person you’ve always wanted, that means you now have something to lose.

Being in a healthy relationship can be one of the greatest experiences in the world, but staying together requires hard work. The good news is that this sort of effort doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, strengthening the connection can feel easy with the right tools.

At a Glance

In a previous column, I shared five things all couples need to know about love. Let’s venture further with five things you can do to make love last. Whether you’re newly together or you’ve been with your honey for decades, here are the guardrails you can put into place to have your ephemeral connection stand the test of time.

Take Accountability to Do Better

When I was in my 20s, I was oblivious to how my underlying traumas were causing me to choose situations that reflected my internal relationship with myself—and it wasn’t good. My relationships were a mirror that unflinchingly revealed my fears, pain, lack of self-worth, and low capacity for intimacy.

I was convinced I saw everything correctly and everyone else was in the wrong. Yet my blind spots kept my world stunted and small. I wasn’t growing but becoming more stubborn in stagnant patterns. I realized I couldn’t control those external situations, but I could control what I do moving forward.

I had to accept that I chose all-consuming, chaotic work environments because the drama meant I wouldn’t have time to sit with myself. I needed to acknowledge that I chose an emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend because I didn’t love myself enough to trust my gut instincts. I stopped blaming them and took responsibility for my unhealthy behaviors so I could finally explore the rawest parts of myself. The journey made me a better person and a better partner.

Takeaway

When you take accountability, you’re ultimately embracing objectivity. You’re holding up your hands and admitting you’re willing to try something differently. You can own up to something when you're wrong, stay open in an argument, and attempt to see someone else's perspective.

Your partner will appreciate your expansive ability to admit your mistakes, self-reflect, and make positive changes. When you want to improve for the better, you’re protecting the sacredness and beauty of your relationship. This courageous act cultivates trust. You can be right, or you can be in love. It’s your choice.

Turn Toward Your Partner’s Bids

Psychologist John Gottman defined a bid as the “fundamental unit of emotional connection.” A bid represents a microcosm of our desire to draw closer to someone. Some verbal and nonverbal examples of acquiring attention, affection, support, and/or approval include:

  • Sharing observations to pull them into a moment with you: “Did you see that hummingbird outside? I’m so happy we put up that feeder in the backyard for special memories.”
  • Asking for help: “I just went to the store. Can you put away the groceries?”
  • Making life easier in a tangible way: “Let’s visit your mom. I know we’ve had several conversations about her health, and I would really like to be around your family. How’s next weekend?”
  • Checking in about their day or engaging in conversation: “Wow, work sounds stressful! What happened with your project this week? Did everything go well with the pitch?”
  • Laughing at jokes: Making a funny quip, watching a movie together, sharing memes, or making silly faces for their amusement.
  • Learning something and/or trying something new: “I know you love surfing, and you’ve wanted me to try for a long time. Even though I’m uncoordinated, I booked some lessons to learn on our upcoming vacation so we can spend quality time together.”
  • Nonverbal demonstration: Eye contact, smiling, opening a door, touching their leg when they’re close, massage, getting their water without them asking, holding hands, kissing, or having sex.

To perceive a bid effectively, you must know the response to a bid is either eroding or deepening your connection. Seems simple, but Gottman’s laboratory study revealed bids have a significant impact in fostering relational safety: Researchers found attuned couples who stayed married exhibited an 86% rate of engagement and responsiveness turning toward each other, while unattuned partners who divorced did so merely 33% of the time.

Takeaway

Here’s an example of what that looks like in action. Let’s say your partner is an avid video gamer. Connecting and turning toward your partner is sincerely asking them about the new game they’re trying out, even if it’s not your thing. Turning away from them is ignoring them and dismissing their passion as a silly hobby. Turning against them is rolling your eyes and criticizing them for playing games at all.

Perhaps you’re not a gamer, but following your partner’s passion shows you want to pay deep, multilayered attention to them. Plus, it's adorable when your partner lights up about something they're seriously passionate about. You may not understand video games, but you want to understand them. They can feel when you attend to their bids and care about what's happening in their life with genuine interest. This form of responsive generosity imbues your relationship with increased vulnerability.

Have Fun Together

Research notes that shared laughter is one of the clearest relationship markers of relationship satisfaction. Having a good time goes beyond enjoying fancy dinners for an anniversary or going away on vacation, although that’s one medium for it.

Fun involves being intentional about having positive experiences and adding a certain playfulness into your dynamic. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but you can rely on some sweet rituals, like good morning texts or surprising your partner with fried chicken for their cheat day meal. These special moments enhance the quality of your connection, maintain a positive perception, and nurture optimism for your shared future.

Takeaway

Just like it’s important to make time for sex, it’s important to make time for adventure. So have fun with play! It could be watching a new television show, dancing in the kitchen while trying out a new recipe, surprising your partner with a gift, leaving a note under their pillow, racing them to the car after errands, beating them at a strategy board game, or trying out a new sport together. The possibilities are endless. Mix up your routines and throw in novelty wherever you can.

As passionate love matures into compassionate love, the demands of life—be it exhaustion, work, finances, family, and other stressors—can sometimes make it challenging to prioritize your connection. However, this relationship investment matters. By enjoying the connection, it’ll make difficult moments feel less intense and bring you closer as best friends.

Related: 17 Fun Things to Do As a Couple

Let Go Of Expectations

We all have visions of what love should be. While our partner might align with many of our expectations, it’s important to understand that finding someone who will fit every aspect of our changing lives is impossible. Realistically, it’s about finding a growth-oriented individual who can jointly navigate the various aspects of life together.

I’ve worked with numerous couples who couldn’t stop fighting because of their differences. Often, they attempt to stubbornly shape the relationship according to their specific demands without considering the individuality of their partner’s needs. But a partner isn’t a checklist—they’re a person with their own say, too.

To avoid perfectionism and mind-reading, my advice is to communicate honest, reasonable expectations so you can find common ground together. When you can reconcile your fantasies with reality, you’ll find it easier to focus on the present moment, which infuses collaboration, support, and warmth into your connection.

To be clear, this isn’t about lowering expectations on your non-negotiables, fundamental needs, or the respect, affection, trust, and treatment you deserve. However, some of your dreams may require revision as you put in the energy of making them work versus hoping they will change into who you want them to be.

Reaching for this depth of openness heightens trust and compassion. You’re showing that their evolving needs are worthy of consideration, and you’re willing to compromise to make them happy. That means letting go of preconceived notions of love and understanding partnership is a negotiation. You'll truly feel like you can do anything together by showing that you see them for who they are and who they want to be.

Preserve Positive Illusions About Your Partner

I truly believe that love is why we do anything in the world. Love is one of the most magical human experiences we can have. That's why helping people find and maintain their relationships is my life’s true calling.

Through my coaching practice and extensive research, I’ve uncovered that people can sustain the intoxication of love well into old age. A 2010 survey examining 470 studies on compatibility found that communication, similar values, and commitment, while important, weren’t the sole determinants of long-lasting romance. The key factor that ensured lasting love was the ability to preserve “positive illusions” about their partner.

If you believe your partner is consistently attractive, funny, kind, and sweet–whichever qualities you see as your ideal–it’s highly likely you’ll experience enduring satisfaction in your relationship. Let's say your partner is going through a rough time, and they're unable to meet all of your usual expectations. Instead of being frustrated, you see their situation with grace and choose to remember the times they exceeded your expectations. This perspective allows you to see their perceived flaws with realistic positivity and compassion.

I can personally attest to this. My boyfriend is my dream partner. I feel incredibly lucky to be with someone who makes me feel so seen, safe, and valued. Taking the time to shower him with appreciation makes him feel loved. In return, he reciprocates the same energy back. It creates an ever-expanding cycle of gratitude for each other.

Maintaining a long-term relationship requires an investment in humility, growth, consideration, and compromise. Yet the rewards of companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love are priceless.

Read Next: Am I in Love? Take the Quiz

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/relationships/all-couples-that-last-do-these-5-things-according-to-a-relationship-coach/ar-AA1h3vi0

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