“What’s your secret?”
“How have you guys lasted so long”
“Don’t you get tired of each other?”
Austin and I are often interrogated about our relationship. We are also asked to consult on the relationships of our friends and families. Everyone desperately wants to know that their relationship is strong and unique or that they are on the right track. It can be helpful to seek advice from others, but in the end, what works for someone else may not work for you. We are not experts or the authority on long-lasting relationships. I thought I would share the top 5 things that are important to us and maybe you might want to run with it. I, personally, would take it with a grain of salt.
1. Friendship first
Courtship tends to focus on romance and impressing each other. Why not try building a friendship first or maintaining your current bond? There really is no need to rush into being super mushy or lovey-dovey. Indulge yourself in each other’s dorky habits, laugh, and have fun. It also puts less pressure on trying to present your “best self” which may not necessarily be your “real self”.
2. Conflict resolution
Conflict can be healthy; disagreements are bound to happen. Handling the conflicts can be a team building exercise. Do you compromise? Agree to disagree? Are each of you determined to be right? It can be helpful early on to find out your conflict resolution style. Our disagreements can take hours to resolve, mainly because we like to sit and think before each response. We turn the TV off, we do not look at our phones, and we make sure we have each other’s full attention. We may even need some time alone first. But, we eventually talk it out. Don’t just say something is “okay” and when it’s not. If the conflict does not get resolved or you find yourself in a repetitive cycle, you may need to rethink your situation.
3. Communicate Openly
Communication is SO IMPORTANT! At the beginning of our relationship, we had several communication barriers, mainly because I had difficulty opening up. Austin would plead with me to tell him how I was feeling or tell him what I was thinking; I would sit there with my arms crossed looking away (God, that boy is patient). It took months before I felt comfortable enough to share my thoughts freely and feel like I was ready to be heard. Communicating is not just about talking, it is imperative to also listen. For me, I would rather have a loving conversation than a hug or a kiss. It is also incredibly attractive when someone can recall what I say in passing and bring it up when I least expect it. Austin’s attention can deviate a little, but I know he’s listening even when I accuse him otherwise.
4. Challenge and encourage each other
You and your partner should be able to push each other out of your comfort zone and challenge each other. Whether it is with intelligence or actions, a good partner will want to elevate you, not necessarily change you. For example, I hate leaving the house. Austin will talk me into hanging out with a friend or trying a new restaurant. He also helps me practice my speeches and write my blog entries [this one]. When I want to give up, he is there to encourage me and vice versa.
5. Do not share your business with everyone.
Social media can be great, it can keep you connected with your friends and loved ones and keep them up-to-date. However, it can also tear you apart. Neither of us are big social media users, especially compared to our friend group. You actually have to reach out to us to know any new updates or recent activities. I have seen a lot of relationships fail due to too much social media influence either, posting too many photos, not posting enough, jealousy, or having friends in your business. This can also happen without the influence of Facebook or Instagram. Venting every time you have a problem only allows your friends and family to see one piece of your partner. Venting is not always bad, it can be really helpful to gain a different perspective on the situation or receive some friendly direction. Sometimes though, even when you resolve your issues, who you choose to confide in may only see that one side of them. They do not experience the day to day, the good and the not so great. They may give unsolicited advice or make comments that end up driving a wedge between you and your mate(s).
Everyone’s relationship is different, of course, you can, and should, conduct yourselves as you see fit. This is just information/ advice based on my/our experience. The main goal of a relationship is support, love, and happiness. I hope you all find or have found what you are looking for!