Known as “the frontpage of the internet,” Reddit has millions of users, many being purely readers of the articles, news, and editorials written.
I count myself as one of the lurkers, gleaning the insights and inspiration I can from choice forums.
One that caught my eye is from user (u/) u/Mela_Min: Married Men, what are the unspoken rules for successful marriage? [sic]
Turns out I had only the merest idea of how to make long-lasting relationships, well, long-lasting.
Out of 4.3K comments at the time of writing, I present to you both some of the highest rated comments and those mentions that really… spoke to me? Anyway, some tools for your own toolbox (bolded, paraphrased, and commented on).
Note: This article will use “relationship” in the form of a bond between two persons. Reminder I nor the folks paraphrased here are licensed or otherwise credentialed to give any mental, relationship, finance, legal, or other actionable advice.
Keeping and Growing Long-Lasting Relationships
Share values. Starting out on the right foot in a relationship is step number 0 upon which all else will be decided. Questions of domestic roles, how money enters and exits the partnership, lifestyle choices, children, family, political and religious commitments, sex, conflict resolution techniques, stress tolerances, and more all =deeply= matter to a relationship before it even begins.
Show your partner they matter. This speaks to a quote close to my own heart: “There’s no such thing as love; only proof [acts] of love.” – Jean Cocteau
Expect more of yourself than your partner. Extreme responsibility and high standards start with you. I cannot find the attribution: Relationships are always at least 60%/40% give-and-receive; the best relationships are when the partners both aim to be the harder worker, it being 100%/100% effort.
Do for yourself when you can. If you can / should do it, do it. Your partner is there for encouragement and to catch you when you fall, not carry your work.
Do it now – later is never. Following from the above, do not delay. Chores, questions, addressing conflict, giving affection – relationships are one resentful thought or a skipped stoplight away from no going back. “Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week.” – Proverb
Set roles of responsibility and hierarchies of value. Which career is more important? Who both likes doing a thing X more and is better at X? How will binary decisions in and out of the home get resolved? Decisions and tasks involving two in a relationship are not all equal, nor are the consequences. That said, revisit these hierarchies on occassion – priorities will and do change (more on that later).
Be explicit. No guessing, no games, no assumptions. Never be passive (especially passive aggressive!). What you say matters – what is bothering you, what you need, the wants you hold. Your Word is bond to the other’s expectations and to your actions. To say is to do, to do is to love.
Practice extreme Trust. A follow-up on being explicit, keep Trust. Believe what the other says until proven otherwise. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This point might ought be first, given “Trust is like a string. You cut it once and you join it later, but the knot – it remains forever.” – Anuradha Kamath
Get sleep and separate recharge time. Sleep is the foundation to physical, mental, and relationship health. So is rest and recuperation, but doing so separately (at least part of the time) keeps a person aware that they are still an individual that happens to be in a partnership.
Up your game. Your partner already likes you for your strengths, yet you are linked together now. As always with “the weakest link,” your faults now stand to jeopardize your bonds. Improve yourself, don’t be lousy at things. Learn, improve, and demonstrate competence to your partner – if you are bad, ‘git gud.’
If you are not moving, you are dead. Maintaining a relationship is death to the relationship. Become interesting, engage in new things with and without your partner. Bring something unique to the table, making every day the first date, every week a honeymoon. Yet realize the need for change carries with it the chance the relationship dynamics will change – no relationship starts without the possibility of ending too, but it certainly will change what is first was.
The bad will outweigh the good. We can’t help it – humans overvalue loss and negatives over gains and positives (at least two-times as much). So overcorrect when ‘bad’ issues arise and aim to forgive those trespasses you feel have been done (i.e. never mention these events again).
Public praise, private discussion. Always have your partner’s back in public. =Never= do ill to them among others. Keep the dirty laundry for discussion between your god, private journal, therapist, and partner. That said, be as personal as possible in private – hold hands, cuddle, look in each other’s eyes, speak clearly, these things help bring oxytocin and comradery when important things need handling. (Of course, if your partner is letting out enough to do you, themselves, or others harm, do what you must to save things!)
Counseling comes before the honeymoon, not during the separation. Seek professional guidance together while the times are good. Waiting to get help when the bad-ball is already rolling is a disadvantaged battle.
Be death to getting ‘one-up.’ Never aim to ‘beat’ your partner in disagreements or, virtually, anything. At most, it is you both against the problem in the world, a synergy where 1 + 1 = 3. Admit wrongness. Pick the hills to defend – these hills that matter will be few. In a partnership, there are no winners when scores are kept – only ever two losers.
HALT. Hungry, angry, lonely, tired – be none of these when needing to engage on serious / relationship matters with the partner. You can ask to delay a conversation, but not too much later (reminder that true “later” is “never”) – less than 24 hours in the future should you have ‘got your s*** together’ to then personally re-initiate the conversation.
They come first. Your partner, the relationship. Before career and family and children, choose your partner to maintain the relationship. So much flows from improving long-term relationships, virtually all else will benefit by taking a back seat to working things out between one another. Yet, this isn’t “choose to spend and do all things with the partner” – sometimes the choice of relationship-first is to be graceful when time and attention need to be pulled away for awhile (e.g. emergencies, one-time call-up, sickness, passion projects). If needing to decide, the long-term option will outweigh short-term inconveniences.
ABC Big Picture Themes
Again and again, people report similar principles in relationships success. Those are:
- Act. Doing – taking action quickly and frequently – is a stellar principle to make sure folks appreciate their relationships vs. resting on laurels. 100%/100% contributions.
- Be Better. Yes, you coming as ‘you’ got you into the relationship. What is happening to grow it? Your weaknesses and stagnancy are the weakest links.
- Choose Them. Come back to your partner and the relationship again and again. Praise publicly and work privately (and personally!) to improve everything about your roles.
Not all of the above will apply to you and that is OK. Check yourself, use what you can, and recognize that the more of this that does not appeal to you is like to be where your improvement ought start.
I know I have areas to better – how about you? What has worked in your relationships that ought be on the list? (Seriously, what to add?)
I can only wish you the best for all your partnerships – cheers to healthy and successful relationships!