Creating a Lifetime of Love
Smart, successful couples know that creating a lifetime of love and having a high-quality relationship or marriage requires insight, effort, and practical skills. The good news is that everything you need to know to have a wonderful, satisfying marriage can be learned. Take it from me, an experienced relationship coach, premarital counselor, and marriage counselor, the most practical way to strengthen your bond as a couple is through relationship education – like private premarital sessions or by joining a premarital course. In particular, there are a few basic areas that couples need to focus on in order to have a happy relationship and to create a lifetime of love and a marriage that lasts a lifetime.
6 Relationship Skills for a Lifetime of Love
1) Learning How to Communicate Effectively
Learning how to communicate well is a critical skill for the health of your relationship. How do you express your feelings? How do you ask for what you need? How do you approach your partner when you want to talk about something? How do you solve problems together? Any one of these moments creates opportunities to strengthen your partnership… or have hurt feelings and a fight.
2) Understanding Each Other Better
Learning how to navigate misunderstandings that lead to conflicts can make or break a relationship. I don’t have to tell you that people may seem one way when they are feeling another. For example, people often seem angry when they actually feel hurt.
Another example is that people often seem distant when they feel anxious. In order to have a successful relationship, you both need to “decode” what each other is communicating accurately. So think about the more vulnerable feelings like anxiety, shame, or hurt that might be the underlying cause, which is driving some of your partner’s puzzling behavior. When you can understand and respond to those feelings, you will have greater opportunities for connection.
3) Dealing with Differences, Constructively
All relationships have inevitable conflict. People simply have differences of opinion. But how you handle these moments can make or break a marriage. Every point of conflict is an opportunity to have a bonding conversation that deepens your connection… or that drives a wedge between you.
Consider that every friction point is an opportunity for a new agreement. When approached in that spirit, every difference becomes a “growth moment” that drives your relationship forward.
4) Keeping The Best Parts Of Your Relationship Strong
Feeling connected as a couple requires intentionality and energy. To shamelessly misquote Issac Newton, “Unless you add energy, things fall apart.” Oh, how true this is for marriage. You don’t want to be “coasting” through a marriage! Staying in a good place with each other, and keeping your marriage fun, positive, satisfying, and passionate requires you both to pay attention.
Another metaphor that can help explain this principle is making deposits into your “love bank.” But what kinds of deposits? When? Why do your efforts to “make deposits” sometimes fall flat? Your “love bank” is the relational equity that builds every time you and your partner have meaningful connections that build intimacy, trust and deepen love. While good interactions create “deposits” in your love bank, negative or harmful interactions cause withdrawals.
If the golden rule is to “do unto others as you’d like done to you,” then the platinum rule is to “do unto others as they’d like for them.” In other words, think about what’s actually meaningful and important to them, and then be generous. Being invested in strengthening this bond will let you enjoy the rich rewards of emotional connection.
5) Getting on the Same Page
All couples need to create agreements around big issues. These big issues may include the following: how to handle finances, manage household responsibilities, sex, parenting, setting boundaries with friends and family, and much more.
All of these areas can either become battlegrounds OR bring you closer together and become the very fabric of your strong partnership. Spend time investing in “this is how we do things” conversations and strategies, so you both know what your roles are, and how you’re going to solve practical conversations together.
6) Support Each Other’s Hopes And Dreams
Sometimes couples feel like they are getting pulled in different directions, and that they are growing apart instead of together. When this happens, you can begin to feel resentful of each other’s interests and successes, instead of happy, proud, and supportive. You can be each other’s number one fan again. More importantly, you can have goals, hopes, and dreams that take you in the same direction. Working together brings meaning to your marriage that few other things can. Cultivate the perspective that you’re on the same team.
You can LEARN how to have a better relationship and create a lifetime of love.
If these pointers remind and inspire you to do what needs to be done in order to have a better relationship, then my work here is done. But if you’re reading through these tips and thinking “Yeah, that sounds great, but I/we don’t know how to do that…” then consider investing in “relationship education.” The truth is that all these are relationship skills that can be learned.
Growing Self is proud to offer “A Lifetime of Love,” a six-hour premarital course designed to teach you these strategic skills. We originally created it for premarital couples but found that many established couples benefit from it so enormously we decided to open up to everyone that wants to improve their relationship.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.
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