First and foremost it should be understood that there is no clear, surefire way to a healthy relationship. Much like business, no two relationships are the same thus every unique relationship requires unique strategies in order to make it "work".
Relationships are very much "trial and error" based and most times you will find more errors in your trials than successes. The average realistic lifespan of any relationship is somewhere between 10 and 15 years, with over 50% of those who are married for the first time ending in divorce. Looking at those numbers may get you a tad bit depressed, I know for me it was definitely discouraging especially being a divorcee myself. I've already been down that road once before. What's even more disturbing is that "my" marriage falls in line with the 50% married for the first time, and we were together almost 10 years.
Scary. Pretty creepy actually.
If you read all of these reports you will find your head spinning and I can guarantee that you will find yourself, at some point, vowing to forever remain single. You don't have to. Seriously. While there are no definite ways to prevent a relationship from grumbling there are a few "rules" that I've learned could at the very least, give alternative options that could keep the chaos on a tolerable playing field.
1. Communication - a good relationship needs good communication.
Say it with me now. LACK OF COMMUNICATION LEADS TO FAILED RELATIONSHIPS.
I can admit that compromising isn't one of my stronger qualities. It comes from years of having to do it myself to get things done. When you don't have many people that you can depend on you subconsciously develop this attitude that it's either your way or no way. You become obsessed with controlling situations because you've always had to be in control. If you grew up in the household where you bore witness to your mother compromising too much, you begin to develop a great distaste for the idea of compromising. Because for more, to compromise means to give in, give up and/or be walked over.
If I look back on all of my previous relationships including those I had before my marriage as examples, I can say that I have never be in nor have I witnessed a "good" example of what compromise in a relationship looks like. In fact, most of the time, the person doing the compromising was the "woman" and I refused to be "that" woman who gave up all of her dreams and aspirations to "compromise" with a man or person who refused to compromise with me in return.
This is a universal lesson that applies through all walks of life and I should know this. Or at least you would think that I should. But some reason, when we get into relationships with people we lose the ability to effective communicate with our partners like we would with any other random person on the street. We have no problems telling a stranger what is on our minds and where they had us "f*cked up", but when it comes to our partners we literally expect them to know exactly what we are thinking and how we feel with little to absolutely no words being spoken.
It's like we think that just because this person "knows" us they should be able to properly assess our moods, read our minds and know exactly what we are thinking and move on that with accuracy. Silence is golden but I've learned that silence isn't always the best solution. In fact, often times, silence makes the situation worse. Especially when your partner seems completely clueless as to what is going on so you are watching them carry on with life as if nothing is wrong while you seeth from your corner in the dark.
"Well, I told him/her this a million times before and I am tired of repeating myself."
I hear you and I get it. This was me. This IS me. I hate having to repeat myself especially since I consider myself to be a fairly straight shooter. I don't beat around the bush. I get to the point quickly because I want solutions fast. But sometimes, the way that we go about communicating with each other can definitely "block" the other person from actually receiving the message.
When some "comes at me" I shut off my ears. I stop listening and at some point in the "discussion" all I am going to want to do is either yell back and assert my dominance or I am going to shut down completely. Either of these two aren't ideal and only cause more conflict but it's what happens when the message being relayed is done so in a way that makes me defensive.
Being able to talk and be heard or listened to by my partner is important to me. Coming out of a relationship where everything was a hassle when it came to accountability, I refuse to be with anyone who can not effectively communicate with me or listen to me. this doesn't just apply to romantic relationships, but friendships and work related relationships as well. Communication is a skill that will help you to achieve anything and be successful in life, at work, with your kids, and in your relationship.
2. Compromise - although it's not always easy especially when you are use to having your way.
"A compromise is an agreement where neither party gets what they want." - Random person who wrote this on a meme
It's true. Compromising is probably one of my weaker attributes. I don't like to compromise because for most people compromising means giving up so that the other person can have what they want. That isn't what compromise is. It's a meeting in the middle of two different minds and perspectives to achieve a common goal.
Compromise is especially hard when you are a person (such as myself) who hasn't really had many people they can count on. When you are left to do this on your own, you begin to develop an "I don't need you I can do it myself" approach to life especially if you have been single for a long period of time. Living alone I don't have to explain myself to anyone and I, for damn sure, don't need to compromise. Things are done the way that I like them and everything is in order. I come and go as I please. I eat what I want. I watch what I want. Wear what I want. Hell I even sleep how I want to.
When you enter into relationship everything has to be reassessed. From how you live to how you work. You literally have to take into consideration the feelings of another person and make a conscious effort to include them in all of your forthcoming decisions. It can be frustrating to say the least. Here is where we find people who are "involved" but still living as though they are single.
Being able to compromise solves problems and plays a big role in having a successful relationship. Of course this doesn't mean that you have to give in to your partner every time, you will both need to find a compromise that works for both of you. To have a healthy relationship you both need to be happy so if there is something that you are not happy about then you need to come to some sort of agreement that will satisfy you both.
Compromise is the king.
3. Commitment - a successful relationship needs commitment from both parties.
DISCLAIMER: I AM AWARE OF THE FACT THAT THERE ARE A PLETHORA OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS THAT EXIST AND THAT NOT ALL RELATIONSHIPS REQUIRE MONOGAMY. I THINK IT WOULD DO BEST TO REMIND YOU THAT COMMITMENT IS NOT EXCLUSIVE TO MONOGAMY.
Commitment, at its core, is an agreement between two consenting individuals to uphold the rules of the relationship based on the outline guidelines of your relationship. Commitment requires trust and honesty. You have to be dedicated to the cause and that can not be done if both parties are not committed. If only one person is committed to the relationship and everything is one sided you know that it won't last. It can't. Teamwork requires both parties to be on board.
Again, commitment requires you to be able to COMMUNICATE and COMPROMISE. See what I did there?
In my opinion, commitment and the lack of one wanting to be dedicated to one cause is the reason why there are so many "situationships" popping up. Relationships of convenience, if you will. The idea of "seeing where it goes" is a direct result of peoples fear and/or unwillingness to commit. And people are unwilling to commit because they don't want to be honest and they don't want to let go of whatever it is that they think they will be missing out on by committing.
Whenever I meet someone and they tell me that they have not been in a committed relationship in several years it's a red flag for me. Partially because I recognize that in myself.
If I wanted to be in a relationship or even be married right now I could be as I have had no short of options over the last 5 years. But my unwillingness to compromise and communicate my needs (because I'm tired of repeating myself) prevents me from committing myself and my time to any one person or thing.
I'm not saying it's the right way to be, I am simply saying that I see it and I recognize it. I'm working on it.
4. Celebrate - take time out to celebrate the important moments in your life.
When I was married I never imagined that I would be "unmarried" so the thought of preserving memories for later never seemed like a big deal. Until I was no longer married and I took a look back over my life as a Mrs. and realized that most of my memories were ones i would soon rather forget. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of good moments but they were far and between the bad.
I can say that although I don't regret much in my life, because I personally feel as though lifes lessons are needed for growth and maturing in THIS lifetime so that in your next you can do something better, I do regret not making the most out of my time with him. Far too much time was spent focusing on the negatives along with the problems. I would like to think that had more time been spent making good memories a lot of the bad would have never come to pass.
Moving forward, I have made it a requirement that take time out for myself and my significant other to enjoy each other and create memories that serve as a reminder that while all couples have their differences, the bad times arent nearly as much as the good. I plan on making it a point to celebrate what it is that I have with that person, in that moment and at that time because you never know when the end of the road will come. For some it takes 20 years while for others it takes only 3 months.
When you love your partner and show them and remind them that you love them, then they will do the same in return. Don't wait for special occasions; celebrate your love any time.
5. Closure - whenever you have a disagreement don't let it go on for days unresolved.
As corny as it sounds, believe me when I say that allowing unresolved issues to remain unresolved is a surefire way to an explosive breakup. And by explosive I mean just that.
When I am upset I shut down. This is a defense mechanism that I taught myself years ago in order to get a handle on my explosive temper. Yes, I am a ticking time bomb waiting to "pop off" on anyone for the slightest offense and I have a rather unfiltered mouth with a delivery sharp enough to gut a cow. My temper was so bad at one point my mother literally told me she was afraid that I was going to end up in jail or dead. When I got pregnant with my daughter I made the decision to try and curb my temper and be more mindful with my actions and the things I say. I'm also a Libra and apologizing isn't something that I'm willing to do, so the idea of simply not saying what I feel to avoid that awkward "My bad" talk sounded good. The problem is that by doing so I literally crippled my ability to effectively relay my feelings and as a result of my mind not knowing what to do with all of that "verbiage" it simply started to shut down.
These days when i am upset about something I hold on to it. I let it build up. I try to place situations in one of two boxes:
It isn't worth it let it go
Tear the whole club up
Most times things fall into the "let it go" pile. Ironically, it never really is let go. Instead it is kicked under the rug to be reviewed again at a later date during an argument that has absolutely nothing to do with what we were talking about initially.
That's where things get sticky.
So now you have all of these thoughts, feelings and emotions pouring out of you 100 miles per hour in an angry rage and the other person is looking at you in disbelief, confused on what to do or say because they literally had no idea that any of this was an issue or on your mind. Now you are arguing about that instead of the current situation. Nothing gets resolved. No one is happy. Everyone goes to bed angry. Breakfast is awkward and the rest is history.
I learned that if you have a disagreement then we need discuss it and find a conclusion so that you can both move on and be happy right then and there. Unless, of course, you enjoy the soothing sounds of slammed doors and smart under the breathe comments.
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