7 Keys to a Relationship that Lasts a Lifetime

We all work hard to find the one.  The person who completes us, then what?  We live happily ever after in a blissful state of union of course.  This is what we’ve learned from fairy tales and Hollywood.  I hate to burst your bubble but life can be messy and even great relationships have challenges at different times.

Whether you’re married or in a long-term relationship how do you ensure your love endures a lifetime?  We have some tips that are essential to maintaining an amazing healthy relationship that stands the test of time.

  1. Get to know yourself. The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.  How can someone else know you if don’t know yourself.  We love personality tests and some of our favorites are below with links to FREE tests.

Enneagram Test has nine different personality types to help you understand yourself better and encourage personal growth.

16 Personalities is based upon Myers-Briggs with 16 personality profiles that provide a description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.

  1. Get to know your partner. We mean really get to know your partner. Their authentic true self. We highly encourage you both to take the personality tests together and compare results.  This makes a great date night too.                                                                   
    Another resource for connection is Intuitive Development.  We’ve taken every class at Intuitive Development and there are two classes we highly recommend.  The first is Understanding Emotional Patterns to learn how to manage conflict resolution by identifying your emotions.  The other is Defining Bottom Lines with an emphasis on how communication is the cornerstone of all successful relationships. You will also identify your bottom lines and determine the most important elements for you in relationship.  Identifying these things for yourself will provide clarity and more stability in your partnership.
  1. What’s your love language? Have you taken the free assessment for The Five Love Languages?  This is based on the book by Gary Chapman. The 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Physical Touch and Quality Time.   Most people enjoy many of these in relationship but we all have a primary love language that fills up the emotional bank account. We are all usually very good at demonstrating our own love language.  For example my love language is Words of Affirmation so I’m usually good at writing love notes, text messages or verbally telling Marty how much he means to me.  Marty’s primary love language is Acts of Service.  So he is always doing things for me like getting me coffee in the morning or calling me on his way home to see if I need anything.  While I love the things he does for me and he appreciates my generous words of how amazing he is, we both long for love to be expressed to us in our Love Language.  With this awareness we are both able to reciprocate in our partner’s primary love language.  This enhances our relationship immensely.
  2. Communication is so important in relationship. In her book, Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson’s work utilizing Emotionally Focused Therapy (“EFT”) talks about how our communication can either push us apart or bring us closer together.  For example, if your partner says you really pissed me off, more than likely this will cause a fight or flight scenario.  It will certainly not bring you closer together.  However, by determining the underlying reason for the anger and then communicating the issue to your partner in a softer more loving way will allow the message to be heard and more receptive.   By digging deeper and working together, we can communicate what really caused the anger that typically has an underlying feeling of hurt and being unlovable.  Sharing these feelings together will likely draw you closer together instead of further apart.
  3. Common Interests are really important. While it’s ok to each have your own activities and hobbies you may do alone or with friends, it’s also imperative to have things you do together.  One of our favorite rituals is reading the daily message in the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.   We also take regular walks or bike rides together in the morning.  Find some regular activities that you enjoy doing together; maybe take a dance class together or our new fave activity, AcroYoga.
  4. Date Nights are imperative and you just can’t have too many. Especially if you’re a parent, it’s vitally important to make time for yourself and as a couple.  Remember to be an example to your children of what a great relationship looks like.  We can’t stress this enough.

We also recommend the 90-Day FFR Challenge.  Plan just one surprise date for your partner once a month for three months.  EFT therapist, Dr. Lisa Gold shared that most of her clients have forgotten how to have fun together.  Having fun connects you as a couple.  You are reminded why you fell in love with your partner all over again.

  1. Gratitude for the little things. We can easily take things for granted that our partner says or does for us.  When Marty started bringing me coffee every morning and turning on my work computer I was smitten.  However, since he’s been doing this for over a year now it’s easy for me to transition this to an expectation that he’ll do this for me every morning rather than a kind gesture. Be sure to acknowledge the things your partner does for you, even if they’ve been doing it for years.  Try to see your love with fresh eyes every day.

While relationships are work they are so rewarding when you are in good one.  Our hope is that you have an amazing relationship that will last a lifetime and that you never settle for one that’s just good enough.

 

Dana Lam, with Fun Fantasy Ritual 
Inspiring Surprise, Adventure and Excitement in Your Relationship

FunFantasyRitual.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Cope When In-Laws Overstep

I see it far too often in mom groups – a young mother asking how to deal with her in-laws, usually her mother-in-law. There are shocking stories about a MIL piercing ears, giving first haircuts, feeding very young infants candy, cookies, and ice cream, and just being plain rude and disrespectful of parenting choices. I’ve even heard of very unfortunate situations in which a MIL fed her grandchild food he was allergic to because she thought the parents were fabricating the allergy or being overdramatic.

I am very fortunate to have a great MIL who is not only very loving toward my children, but also respectful of my husband’s and my parenting choices. I often think about what I would do if things were different. If we set rules and boundaries that were blatantly ignored? Although I am a quiet introvert around most people, I do have an assertiveness that took years to develop. When my oldest daughter was just a baby, I knew I had to speak up for her when she couldn’t. For example, relatives always wanted hugs and kisses and to hold this cute baby girl. I often had to repeat that she was uncomfortable with other people holding her and instead of a hug and a kiss, she would give high-fives.

There’s usually a polite way to enforce boundaries. However, it is difficult when it’s a trusted adult who is being disrespectful while you’re away. You trust her to keep your children safe and follow your rules. I understand grandmothers want to spoil their grandchildren and I think special treats are great. I have no problem with my preschool daughter getting sweets and gifts from her grandparents. It crosses the line, though, when your child’s health and safety are disregarded. I would be extremely upset if a grandparent ignored my wishes to keep my daughter rear-facing in her car seat or if they pierced her ears without permission.

I think it’s important for children to spend time with all of their family, especially grandparents. But if that time is stressful for you or your children, it becomes less of a priority. And if rules are broken time and again, the privilege of spending unsupervised time with my children would definitely be taken away.

So what do you do if you are being treated rudely or your parenting choices are being criticized? This is something both you and your spouse would need to approach. When you get married, you start your own family and form a bond that is supposed to be unbreakable. Husband, wife, and children are now the inner circle and come first, and the family you grew up with are now second. There are a number of things that can make this bond falter, and one is poor communication. When my husband and I were first engaged, we took a Pre-Marriage Prep class – read more about that here. This helped us tackle future communication issues and brought up the issue of rude or critical in-laws. Nothing will get resolved it you don’t fully communicate to your spouse how you feel when his family member does or says certain things to you.

Be very specific with the situation, your feelings, and your expectations. What would you like him to do when this happens next? If your MIL is critical of what you feed your kids, your husband can chime in and say, “It’s so difficult to get kids to eat anything, but they always eat her cooking and I really like it, too.” Or if you’re left out of planning an activity, maybe your husband can announce how great you are at crafting and you could make some cute place cards. Have a plan and follow through. Be assertive, but also try to be patient with everyone involved.

About Jen Armstrong

Jen is a working mom to two beautiful girls and wife to a brilliant engineer. An Army Brat originally from California, she loves Disneyland, traveling, and lives for Autumn. You can find her most days avoiding laundry and eating chocolate while running her blog, A Strong Home.

 

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