8. Respect boundaries and privacy.
Technological developments make it so easy for us to track each other and to be in constant communication. However, permitting each other to have privacy, as well as not pushing the other person to do things they'd prefer not to do, helps increase happiness in relationships, since it builds up mutual trust.
9. Have healthy conflicts.
Surprise—conflicts can be healthy in relationships! If you go into a relationship expecting never to fight, then your first fight could very well lead to the end of the relationship. Instead, learn strategies for healthy conflict resolution, and talk about them with the other person beforehand.
Also, when a conflict does arise, start by highlighting how much you care about the other person and the relationship. Talk about both the facts and how you feel about them. Avoid the blame game, and instead be as generous as possible when interpreting the other person’s actions. Be open to changing your mind if you discover you made the mistake, and apologize quickly and profusely. Avoid focusing on the past and instead orient toward better behavior in the future. At the end of any conflict, focus on reconnecting and rebuilding emotional bonds strained by the conflict. My wife and I have found these techniques to be so helpful in resolving tensions between us!
10. Meet your own goals.
Remember that you are in the relationship for yourself, not the other person. So, meet your own goals first in any relationship. Be intentional and consider what you want from the relationship when you evaluate it in your own mind and heart. Don’t allow the other person’s needs and desires to overwhelm yours. Play by the rules of Tell Culture: Be honest and open with the other person about your needs and desires, and encourage that person to be honest and open with you. Otherwise, you both risk building up resentment and frustration, which decreases the possibility of a happy and long-lasting relationship.
Today’s society emphasizes individuality, but for any relationship to work, we need to get out of the self-centered shell and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person. This means we must understand their perspective, thoughts, and feelings.
However, be sure to balance your own needs with the other person’s needs. Seek a mutually beneficial compromise on any areas of disagreement. My wife and I make compromises for each other all the time—big and small—and that’s how we keep our relationship strong.
12. Don’t fight against change or diversity.
People and relationships change all the time. This is not something to mourn; it's just a fact of life, to be acknowledged and celebrated. Sometimes, a relationship needs to become more diverse for both people to remain happy. So, consider the possibilities of non-traditional relationships such as polyamory and others. At other times, people who were once right for each other are no longer compatible. To ensure mutual happiness, it’s important to let each other go at that stage. The key is to be intentional and pursue your own goals in any relationship you are in.
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