How do you know your relationship is meant to last? It’s not magic or destiny — it’s a combination of many factors. In the early stages of a relationship everything seems to work by itself. But once the shine of a new romance fades, it’s up to the individuals to work as a team to grow a relationship, like a tree that just gets stronger over time. Here are 10 tips for having, keeping, and nurturing a healthy long-term relationship.
Be on the same page about finances
Money is one of the big reasons people break up. There’s no “right” way to combine your lives financially; some couples keep separate accounts, and some merge them.
The important thing is that you should both be aware of how and what you’re doing. You should be working toward mutual goals as well as individual ones. And you should both know how good or bad your finances are. The last thing you want to be in the dark about in an emergency is money.
Learn to compromise
A true partnership is a two-way street. Learning to compromise is a major strategy. A wise strategy is to “pick your battles.” This means be willing to fight for what’s important and to let go of the little things.
Remember that your goal is to build for both of you, so keep that in mind. You should be willing to compromise, but in a healthy relationship, you won’t let yourself get steamrolled either. You don’t have to, and shouldn’t have to, sacrifice everything for your partner’s choices. Whatever you do, don’t keep score — you’re playing on the same team, after all.
Communication should go without saying, no pun intended. Keep your partner advised of what you’re doing and what you’re thinking. And listen to them tell you the same thing.
Sometimes it feels like we’re bothering them with unimportant stuff, but that’s not true. A proportional relationship is built with bricks of honesty: you can build a wall with them, or you can build a bridge. Guess which one makes for the stronger relationship.
Build a foundation of trust
Trusting your partner doesn’t just mean to trust them not to cheat on you. This means to trust that they care about you and that they’re working with you toward your shared goal of a long-lasting relationship. You should both be fully invested in building and keeping it.
If you can’t trust them with little things, do you really want to trust them with bigger responsibility? It’s better to learn how to maintain a relationship rather than trying to learn how to fix a relationship that’s broken.
Nurture separate interests
One of the biggest indicators in trust is if you have separate hobbies or interests. If your partner likes hiking and you don’t, then let them go hiking without you. Encourage their hobbies, even if you don’t share them.
People can like different things. Also, you can see to your own hobbies without worrying that your partner is bored. Everyone needs self time. But don’t forget to find mutual hobbies and set aside time to enjoy them together.
Date each other
When building a long-lasting relationship, it’s important not to fall too much into routine. Remember in the early relationship stages when every date was a thrilling new adventure? Try to keep that attitude.
Go away together for a weekend, or just an afternoon. Surprise each other with little presents now and then. Treat every encounter like you’re still in that “impressing” stage, because you can never be too wonderful.
Have healthy conflicts
Real, honest relationships have occasional arguments. If you feel strongly about something, don’t be afraid to champion it, but be aware your partner might not feel the same way.
If you always get your way, or always give in, that’s not a healthy solution. Some people say the best relationship advice is to never go to bed angry with each other. Argue, but make up afterward. Just remember that nobody ever “wins” an argument.
Learn to apologize
Apologizing is like an admission to being wrong, which feels bad. But that’s not the point. No one is 100 percent right about anything. If your argument goes bad, don’t be afraid to apologize for your part in it even though you’re not apologizing for the main issue.
A strong relationship does not fold under pressure. In a more casual relationship it may not seem important, but this is the big leagues. So learn to apologize, and then move on. Apologies are part of letting go.
Be a team
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to join forces against outside trouble. Whether it’s work or even family, remember you’re a combined force. Don’t let them pit you against each other or drive a wedge in between you. After all, this is the family you’ve chosen and are actively defending; they have precedent over the family you lucked into.
This does not mean you should have a codependent relationship and shun everyone outside. It means that you’ve picked your partner and are sticking by them in times of trial. Rely on them and let them know they can rely on you.
People change over time — that’s just how things are. The person you are at 20 and the person you are at 60 are different. You experience life, and that colors how you view the world and your place in it. Don’t forget that your partner will change over time, too.
The point is to grow together, like vines, strengthening each other. Every day brings a new challenge. Don’t be afraid to evolve to meet it, but be sure to evolve together.