Have you ever noticed when a couple is celebrating a milestone anniversary like their 50th, they get asked what is the secret to a long, successful relationship? We all want to know what is the silver bullet to being happy in our relationships. I’m here to break the news that there is no “secret.” The key to a successful, long term relationship is simply effort. It is all about the effort each of you is putting forth in the relationship.
Let’s be honest, it can be easy to identify what we believe our partner is, or is not doing, in the relationship. (Think dirty socks on the floor or being on their phone all the time). And, you may think if he or she just says or does something different, the relationship would get better. The problem with this attitude is that you have no control over your partner. You can ask them to stop doing something but, bottom line, they are going to do what they want to do. You have limited influence. This can lead to a lot of frustration for both of you!
However, what if you started paying attention to how you are speaking to your partner? What if you started paying attention to how you are treating them? When you do this, you are able to decide how you are going to handle a situation. You are putting yourself in control of the situation and taking responsibility for your behavior.
For example, if your partner is asking you a question, are you giving them your full attention or do you continue to scroll through your social media? If your partner forgets to do something, do you become angry and criticize them or do you acknowledge the mistake and give them the opportunity to make it right? This subtle shift in your attitude can lead to huge dividends. When you are kind to your partner and give them grace, it encourages your partner to be kind to you and give you the same grace. There is no magic secret. It is simply owning your part in the relationship and putting forth the effort to change it.
So, as we approach Valentine’s Day take some time to reflect on your relationship. Ask yourself if you are happy with how it is. If you are not happy, ask yourself what are you contributing to your relationship. What can you change or do differently to begin to make your relationship stronger and happier? Looking at yourself as the “secret” to a happier relationship is a gift to both of you. And it is a gift that keeps on giving!