Every successful relationship succeeds for the same exact reasons

This is not an insult or anything. Actually, it’s the opposite. These were all smart and well-spoken people from all walks of life, all over the world, all with their own history, tragedy, mistakes and triumphsAnd yet they all said so many things.Which means these things must be very important and, more importantly, they work.

Stay together for the right reasons

Never talk to anyone because someone calls you. I was first married because I was raised by a Catholic and that was what you would do. Wrong. The second time I got married because I was miserable and lonely and I thought a loving wife would fix everything for me. Also wrong. I took three attempts to find out what should be obvious from the beginning, the only thing you should be with the person you are is that you just love being around them. It’s so simple.

Before we even get into what you should do in your relationship, let’s start with what not to do.

When I sent out my request to readers for advice, I added a caveat that turned out to be illuminating. I asked people who were on their second or third (or fourth) marriages what they did wrong. Where did they mess up?

By far, the most common answer was “being with the person for the wrong reasons.”

Some of these wrong reasons included:

Pressure from friends and family

Feeling like a “loser” because they were single and settling for the first person that came along
Being together for image—because the relationship looked good on paper (or in photos), not because the two people actually admired each other
Being young and naive and hopelessly in love and thinking that love would solve everything

As we’ll see throughout the rest of this article, everything that makes a relationship “work” (and by work, I mean that it is happy and sustainable for both people involved) requires a genuine, deep-level admiration for each other. Without that mutual admiration, everything else will unravel.

The other “wrong” reason to enter into a relationship is, like Greg said, to “fix” yourself. This desire to use the love of someone else to soothe your own emotional problems inevitably leads to codependence, an unhealthy and damaging dynamic between two people where they tacitly agree to use each other’s love as a distraction from their own self-loathing. We’ll get more into codependence later in this article, but for now, it’s useful to point out that love, itself, is neutral. It is something that can be both healthy or unhealthy, helpful or harmful, depending on why and how you love someone else and are loved by someone else. By itself, love is never enough to sustain a relationship.

They had realistic expectations

You are absolutely not going to be absolutely gaga over each other every single day for the rest of your lives, and all this “happily ever after” bullshit is just setting people up for failure. They go into relationship with these unrealistic expectations. Then, the instant they realize they aren’t “gaga” anymore, they think the relationship is broken and over, and they need to get out. No! There will be days, or weeks, or maybe even longer, when you aren’t all mushy-gushy in-love. You’re even going to wake up some morning and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” That’s normal! And more importantly, sticking it out is totally worth it, because that, too, will change. In a day, or a week, or maybe even longer, you’ll look at that person and a giant wave of love will inundate you, and you’ll love them so much you think your heart can’t possibly hold it all and is going to burst. Because a love that’s alive is also constantly evolving. It expands and contracts and mellows and deepens. It’s not going to be the way it used to be, or the way it will be, and it shouldn’t be. I think if more couples understood that, they’d be less inclined to panic and rush to break up or divorce.

The most important factor in a relationship is not communication, but respect

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