December 25, 2012

5 Things My 20-Year Relationship Taught Me.

Marrying My Opposite, Discovering My Self

I began dating my husband at the angst-ridden age of 14. Straightaway it was clear that we were opposites—and that this relationship had a lot to teach me.

Over these last nearly 20 years, I’ve learned as much about myself as I have about how to have a successful relationship. Here are five of the most important things I’ve discovered.

1. Fight fairly. You’ll also notice that I suggest fighting. If done fairly and with proper communication, I really believe that it’s healthier to air your relationship’s dirty laundry than to let it reek in the basement. You’ll smell that filth eventually—often in the form of bringing up the past when it’s no longer relevant. Which leads away from my nasty clothing analogy and into one of the keys to fighting fairly: don’t dredge up the past. Additionally, learn how your partner expresses herself when under duress. Does she close up? Does she spew horrible words? Help your partner communicate what’s upsetting her effectively, so that you can move on—and learn from what caused that initial tension rather than give it the power to become a rift.

2. Make love not war. Realize when you’re creating unnecessary arguments. The old saying “pick your battles” has real merit to it. Not everything is worth getting upset over. Two people are bound to have differing preferences at least some of the time. More importantly, though, it’s likely your partner’s quirks and dissimilarities are what attract you too. Keep this in mind when you find yourself ready to blow because you found that wet towel from his shower lying on your pillow again. (Love you, honey!)

3. Be active together. I’m a yogi and my husband’s a cyclist. Together we enjoy hiking and backpacking, and we’ve always encouraged our individual athletic pursuits. If there’s one thing I’ve observed in couples as they age, they are either sedentary together—or they’re not. So if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, then choose someone who supports you and wants one too.

4. Cook together. If you’re someone who always says, “I don’t like to cook,” then take a cooking class. I seriously believe that processed foods are horrible, and this includes almost all restaurant fare. Going out to eat with your partner is not nearly as good for you as cooking wholesome food at home—and it’s definitely not as much fun or as sexy either.

5. Set goals together. Much of what we look for in a significant other involves where we see ourselves in the future. Learning to enjoy yourself and your partner in the present moment is crucial to happiness, but it’s also important to learn how to set goals together—and help one another achieve them.

Being with the right person instills a loving glow that you pass on to everyone you come into contact with—but even the best relationships take work. I hope these suggestions help lead you toward greater satisfaction in your own partnerships, so that you can pass on that torch of love and learning to people around you.



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