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Happily Ever After: What Makes a Relationship Work?

By Edel Jarboe

A popular conclusion to fairy tales is the phrase "And they lived happily ever after." But does happily ever after really exist? Let's get the stars out of our eyes. If you are lucky enough to have found someone to love and who loves you back, you should know that this thing called love is a lot of work. We all have a tendency to take things for granted and to fall back into old habits and love is no exception. We have all stumbled across the following "secrets" to a long-lasting relationship at one time or another, but it is important to be reminded of them just the same. Are you using the following principles in your relationship?

#1 Having Mutual Trust And Respect For Each Other
Be each other's best friend. Be there for each other and treat each other with kindness, consideration, and respect. Be willing to apologize if you have hurt one another in some way. Let each other know how important you are to each other

#2 Making Sure You Share Common Values
Are you playing on the same team? Do you and your mate want the same things out of life? Are you in agreement on how to go about getting these things? Talk to each other about your hopes and dreams. Share your worries and fears. Work together to overcome obstacles.

#3 Practicing Give and Take
Avoid resentment and power struggles in your relationship by being open and honest with each other about your respective needs and wishes. Practice the fine art of compromise.

#4 Working Together as a Team
A successful relationship is egalitarian- where no one partner is better than the other, there are no control issues, etc. Rather, an equal partnership is where you recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses and work together as a team. It is the acceptance of each other for who you are, as you are.

#5 Being Playful And Having Fun Together
Shared interests and hobbies such as travel, gardening, or hiking alleviate boredom and is the glue that holds a relationship together. Even folding the laundry together can be fun - it's all in your attitude.

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#6 Laughing Together Often
Laughter is a great coping strategy when things get tough because it relieves tension. Your ability to laugh together as a couple allows you to bond over shared experiences - both good and bad. It also reinforces your enjoyment of each other.

#7 Communicating Openly
If the sharing of household chores or child-rearing is a source of resentment, for example, sit down and work it out. Make a list of the chores and responsibilities and negotiate a fair division of the things you each like to do and the not so great chores between the two of you. If you can afford it, consider hiring people to help you.

#8 Listening Until You Hear Each Other
Avoid blanket accusations and focus on communicating how your partner's behavior makes you feel. Instead of saying "You always," say "I feel." This ensures that your message will be heard and keeps the lines of communication open. Your mutual goal should be to understand each other.

#9 Fighting Fair
Avoid needlessly hurting your mate with put-downs and other spur-of-the-moment zingers. Treat your mate as your friend first, your lover second. Just because you are in a relationship doesn't give you the right to destroy another person's self-esteem.

#10 Keeping Romance Alive By Openly Expressing Your Love And Affection
Tell your mate that you love them. Give them a hug for absolutely no reason. Kiss them like you mean it - often. Surprise each other with little gifts, weekend getaways, or love notes in unexpected places.

#11 Making Time For The Relationship
Spend at least 20 minutes together a day just talking with each other. Make time for sex as well. Not in the mood? Too tired? Putting the energy into this aspect of your relationship will pay dividends in the other aspects of your relationship. Make reaffirming your connection with each other a priority in your lives. If you need more time together, turn off the television, computer, or pager and let the answering machine do its job.

#12 All Of The Above
And they lived happily ever after by being committed to making the relationship work. In the absence of fairy godmothers or any other magic, it is up to you and your mate to use the above principles to create your own fairy tale romance.

© Edel Jarboe


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