Relationships are supposed to feel effortless. But the truth is, they’re not. Just like most good things, you’ve got to put the work in to get what you want. When every conversation turns into an argument and you can’t be in the same room together anymore, you probably wouldn’t believe it if we told you that it’s very fixable. There are 5 things that make a relationship work and we’re here to tell you what they are.
The things we look for and want from a relationship evolve as we do. As teenagers, being able to lock your bedroom door is all you want. As young adults, you yearn for the “perfect” partner, and as adults, all you ask for is someone who doesn’t annoy you with their loud chewing.
But the 5 things that make a relationship work remain constant throughout all those stages. Does it require voodoo? The dark arts? Lots and lots of money? No, not really (though the money would help). The relationship skills we’re talking about are pretty simple; let’s see what we got.
5 Things That Make A Relationship Work
Assuming that it was love that brought you two together, we won’t include this fundamental aspect in our list. Even so, it’s important to note the difference between love and infatuation since a relationship that’s based on a feeling of obsession is bound to end sooner or later.
And if you think money is what makes a relationship last, go ahead and take a look at how Jeff Bezos and Donald Trump are doing. You’ll find that money issues can ruin your relationship, but splashing the cash isn’t bound to keep your love intact. In fact, what makes a relationship work are usually the simplest aspects of sustaining good relations with people; they just feel a lot more intense since there’s so much more at stake.
No, you won’t have to stop talking to all your friends to build a good relationship with your partner. And no, just because you two bunnies are always in the bedroom doesn’t mean you’re meant for each other either.
The most important things to make a relationship work will help you go from the “It’s a match!” screen on your phone to meeting your partner’s parents. Perhaps the only problem you’ll have after reading this article is figuring out what to say to the potential in-laws when you do meet them (unfortunately, you can only talk about the weather and the Mets’ game once).
To make sure it doesn’t take you a few toxic relationships to figure it out (we sure wish we had come across this article earlier), let’s read on and learn about the 5 things that make a relationship work.
Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Grow In A Relationship Every Day
1. Communication shall set you free
Picture this: you’re sitting around together, talking about something, and suddenly one of you starts behaving, well…weirdly. “What’s wrong?” you might ask. “Nothing. You won’t get it.” A few more rounds of this and pretty soon, all you’re left with is guesswork, and that usually doesn’t end well.
That is actually a manifestation of communication problems in relationships. They’re often what causes the demise of most relationships you see around you. Just in case you’re convinced you and your partner know how to communicate effectively, take a look at the ineffective ways of communication according to Psychology Today:
- Passive-aggressive communication: “It’s nothing. Forget it”
- Screaming: harsh tone of voice, screaming matches
- Hysterics: overdramatization of emotions
- Bottling up: withholding expressing dissatisfaction till they’re ready to explode
- Stonewalling: no communication at all, a.k.a., the silent treatment
- Anxious communication: when challenging conversations cause anxious episodes, nullifying conversation
Sounds familiar? We know, we know, trying to be the bigger person and putting your point across in a calm environment seems practically impossible when you can’t stop fighting. But out of the 5 things that make a relationship work, communication is probably the most important.
Countless studies and books highlight the importance of healthy communication in a marriage. Instead of learning to live with the perpetual gridlocked problems that couples sweep under the rug, work on conflict resolution through communication.
2. There’s no love without mutual respect
Now that you’ve seen how important it is to communicate with your partner, you may have a newfound motivation to mend your passive-aggressive ways. But when there’s a lack of respect in your dynamic, a constructive back and forth can never take place.
Think about it, when your partner doesn’t care much for your opinion, a conversation will ultimately be of no point. To make a relationship lead to marriage, validating your partner’s views can make all the difference.
In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman says, “When a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent probability that his marriage will self-destruct.”
In the absence of mutual respect in your relationship, you might be left feeling unheard, ignored, and belittled. On the contrary, what makes a relationship work is attention, validation, and adoration.
3. Trust is what makes a relationship last
Having trust in your partner can be the difference between pacing about in your room, worrying about your partner cheating on you just because they didn’t answer their phone for an hour on their night out.
A lack of trust will always leave you worried about infidelity. Every decision is questioned and it usually signifies a huge lack of respect. When you’re convinced your partner doesn’t have your best interest in mind, you’re bound to freak out when your partner’s friend John hugs her for a few seconds longer.
By agreeing on a shared vision of the future and believing in it, you’ll inevitably trust each other more. So is it going to be a farm in the countryside or a mansion in NYC, 20 years down the line? Talking about future hopes and dreams, settling on a future, making plans…these are all important to build a good relationship with your partner.
Related Reading: Top 9 Tips To Build Trust In Relationships
4. Lean toward each other, not away
Meaning, being supportive and establishing intimacy can be the most important thing to make a relationship work. Is your partner the first person you call when something goes wrong? Is your partner your best friend? Can you tell them anything that’s on your mind?
If the answers to those questions aren’t in the affirmative, you may lack emotional intimacy with your partner. Being present for one another, being caring and nurturing, and simply knowing that you can tell your partner anything are all relationship skills we need.
Love doesn’t feature you covering up the zits on your face when your partner is coming over. Love is when you can comfortably pop each other’s bacne. By truly knowing how your partner views the world, you’ll also be able to find your place in their world permanently.
“Some people leave a marriage literally, by divorcing. Others do so by leading parallel lives together”, John Gottman. In some cases, the humdrum of life might end up being the reason why you drift apart.
But reconnecting is only some quality time and endearing conversations away. When your partner picks up a new hobby, showing interest in it can be the simplest way to make sure you know who your partner is.
5. Personal space and boundaries will bring you closer together
Sure, we mentioned how leading parallel lives together can end your dynamic, but a little bit of personal space doesn’t really equate to “leading parallel lives together.” It’s as simple as spending a weekend away, having some time to yourself, or it can be as hard-core as taking a solo trip.
In a list of 5 things that make a relationship work, you probably wouldn’t expect absolute boundaries to be there. The word is susceptible to misinterpretation, which is why healthy boundaries must be discussed and mustn’t be set in stone.
The keyword here is “healthy,” which basically means you cannot expect your partner to be okay with you going AWOL for a week. The most important thing in a relationship for a woman is perhaps not being tied down by the limitations of patriarchy. Being able to find yourself outside of a relationship is a necessity.
Related Reading: How To Use Words Of Affirmation As A Love Language?
Being with someone features more than just “borrowing” his hoodies and her moisturizer. It features more than good sex and having a few things in common. It should feature these 5 things that make a relationship work and that’s when you’ll realize that you have a union unlike any other.
Now that you know what makes a relationship last, hopefully, you’ll be one step closer to achieving a more fulfilling bond. Till then, you should probably return his hoodies and her lip balms.