building long term relationship

Most of the time, when a person gets into a serious relationship, he or she wants it to be a long-term one. In this age of 50 percent divorce rates, who stays together, and how do they do it?
Couples with long-term relationship success usually have several factors in their favor: dedication to a long-term relationship, many mutual interests and a mature view of the relationship.
Couples who have been together for many years often say they are still together because they went into the relationship intending to stay together. They have committed to making their relationship work, regardless of the circumstances. “Starter” marriages are common today because couples often think that, if things go south, they can divorce, no harm, no foul, and find someone else. Long-term marriages stay long-term because the partners are committed to each other, and to the marriage. This means that couples must consider hardships they may encounter as part of life. They must commit to love and support each other in spite of hard times they may face. This does not, of course, include abuse.

If a couple is committed to the marriage, and both partners agree to counseling, there may be a chance for the marriage to survive, but if the abusive spouse refuses counseling or doesn’t show any improvement for it, divorce may be the only recourse.
However, people should not go into marriages with the idea of running the second things get a little rocky. Life is full of disappointments and hard times. Couples need to resolve to face these times together, and with love and support for each other. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but in general, two people intending to continue a relationship should do so with the expectation that times may get tough, but they will persevere.

Mutual interests are also important. We’ve all heard of marriages where the spouses seemed to have little or nothing in common, and the marriage survived, but in reality, these are rare cases. Fifty years is a long time to stay together with nothing to say to each other. Couples should have at least a few mutual interests, whether they are movies, books, music or the outdoors. And, spouses should be willing to at least try to cultivate an interest in something that previously held no charm for them.

Even if a wife never manages to appreciate football, for instance, she can express interest that a game was close, or at the very least, acknowledge its importance to her husband. However, leaving a wife a television (or golf, or hobby) widow does her and the marriage a grave disservice. It is not fair to the spouse for the other to spend all evening, every evening, watching television, and all day watching sports. The art of compromise is a valuable skill to learn, here.

Couples also can and should develop new mutual interests. Maybe they can take up bowling, or rock-climbing, or stamp-collecting — anything that will give them new experiences and help them spend quality time with each other. Couples should be able to go on vacation and do at least a few things together. They may have activities that appeal to them individually, but they should have some things that interest both. For instance, I dislike antique stores and flea markets. My husband, on the other hand, loves them. My allergies usually start to bother me in antique stores because of the inherent dust and mold, so I tend to stay out of them altogether. I will go to a flea market with my husband, if it is air-conditioned and comfortable. But I really don’t like to stay long. However, we both enjoy “mall-crawling” so we have that interest in common.

Boredom can and will set in quickly if the marriage has no common ground, so couples need to nurture their marriage with mutual interests, to give them topics of conversation, if nothing else.

The third main ingredient for long-term success in a relationship is a mature view of it. Couples need to understand that getting into a marriage or relationship solely for the purpose of sexual attraction is bound to be disastrous. The lust will eventually diminish and then something has to be left. If nothing remains once the physical relationship cools off, resentment will inevitably set in, and the relationship will break.

People also need to understand that mutual respect is vital for a good relationship. Screaming fights and calling each other vile names do not contribute to a happy marriage. If the couple fights before they are married, chances are good they will fight after. A couple is bound to have disagreements, and even the occasional fight, but there is a way to disagree that will not cause hurt to the spouses. Couples should resolve their tendencies to scream at each other before they marry, preferably with counseling.

Pre-marital counseling is often helpful for couples who need to resolve issues. Indeed, some churches will not allow a pastor to solemnize a marriage unless the couple has attended a certain number of hours of counseling. This may assist them in hammering out potentially damaging issues.

When a couple makes the decision to commit to a long-term relationship, they should do so with their eyes open. Dedication to the long-term aspect, mutual interests and a mature view of the relationship will help ensure they have the best shot at a stable, long-term relationship.

building long term relationship


Abak, Nigeria

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