Fairy-tale love is hard to find. Here are some tips for keeping your relationship healthy and happy.
One of the most common questions we hear is, "How do we make our relationship work?" The answers are complicated, varied, and after a while, start to sound like muddled platitudes. But these commonplace sayings get repeated because they work. With this in mind, we pulled together 12 cliches that, in fact, reveal simple, tried-and-true advice for having a healthy, happy relationship. Read on and let us know what you think:
1. Mind your manners. "Please," "thank you" and "you're welcome," can go a long way in helping your partner remember that you respect and love him and don't take him for granted.
2. Variety is the spice of life. Studies have shown that dullness can lead to dissatisfaction with a relationship. Trying something new can be as simple as visiting an unfamiliar restaurant or as grand as a backpacking trip through Sri Lanka. Discoveries you make together will keep you feeling close.
3. The couple that plays together, stays together. Find a sport or hobby that you both love (no, watching TV doesn't count) and make it a priority in your relationship. Camping, biking, building model trains. .. whatever it is, find something you enjoy doing together.
4. Fight right. In order to have productive arguments, keep these rules in mind: Don't call your spouse names. When things get really tough, take a break from the argument. Let the other person finish his/her sentences. Don't initiate a discussion when you're angry.
5. I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. No one likes demands (unless you're in a BDSM role play) but everyone can appreciate a compromise. If you want your lover to do something and you're not sure he'll be agreeable, the quickest way to avoid a confrontation is to sweeten the deal. For example: "Sure, I'll watch Monday Night Football if you take me to see the next movie of my choice."
6. Two heads are better than one. Being in a relationship basically means you've made a merger; you've not only joined assets but inherited the other's problems as well. Rather than looking at his problems as merely his own, tackle them together. For example, if he's gaining weight, rather than pushing him to diet on his own, enroll in an exercise program together.
7. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Maintain your own friendships and occasionally have a night out without your significant other. Doing things without your s.o. not only makes you miss him or her, it also keeps you sane. And in case the relationship doesn't work out, you'll still have your friends.
8. Sound it out. It other words: communicate! Talking out the tough subjects — money, religion, fidelity, raising kids —will not be the most fun you've had, but it'll be valuable.
9. Laughter is the best medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself and at silly mistakes. If he throws your $300 cashmere sweater in the dryer, laughing it off is better than getting angry in the long run. It's just a $300 cashmere sweater, not the end of the world.
10. Keep your eyes on the prize. Yes, he forgot your co-worker's name for the tenth time, but it probably doesn't mean he doesn't care about you. If you keep your perspective fixed on the goal — to be in a happy, functioning partnership — you're less likely to get tangled up in every minor annoyance. Remember, you both want the same thing.
11. Quitters never win. Find a ritual and keep it alive, no matter what. Whether it's always kissing each other good night, renewing your wedding vows every year, sleeping in as late as you want once a month or committing to having sex once a week, pick something that makes you both feel good and stick to it, even when you're tempted to skip.
12. When the going gets tough, the tough get going ... to therapy. Studies show that couples who seek counseling during rocky periods are more successful in resolving their issues than those who don't. Whether its from a religious figure, counselor or mental health professional, getting an expert to help sort out strife is as wise as forgoing self-installation and hiring a plumber to put in a new sink.
"From my mom and dad, because they're happily married for a long time: Just listen. Listen to him. I'm so independent and driven and stubborn. Just let him talk. It's about not being so stubborn and having to win every argument. My parents set a great example. They love each other and take care of each other so much."
"It's kind of cheesy, but my mama, who you all have seen on the show, says to cook for your man. She's Southern, so when he comes home, be pullin' a pie out of the oven. That's always been her advice, and you know what? It works. Your man wants to see you in the kitchen, puttin' some love into some food; it works for Eric, that's for sure."
"The best advice I've ever been given is being handed a Bible. That's the blueprint for marriage that we go by, and that's what our marriage is grounded in. We also have other married couples who are examples in our lives. My parents have been married over 40 years, and both sets of grandparents for over 65 years. When you see couples in long-term relationships and you see them go through good times and bad times, you realize it's about being committed enough and loving your partner enough to hang in there regardless."
"My mom told me, "It shouldn't be that difficult." My parents had their moments for sure, but the majority of their relationship has been really great. It shouldn't be that much work to make love work."
"You've got to be good to each other … it really comes back to respect. I was raised in a very Catholic, Italian family and it was all about respect. Don't talk badly about [your partner] the second they walk out the door; really preserve your relationship and be good to each other. Treat it like gold."
"Don't lie to your partner. Ultimately the expression on your face gives you away, and they feel betrayed by the lie. If this is the person you're going to be with—forever and ever, for better or worse—they will love you for all of your good and all of your bad. They'll love you for you. So open communication is key. I have no secrets and no skeletons in my closet with my husband, and I love that. I feel comfortable and at ease with myself when I'm around him. I love the woman that I've become with him."
"I think the best love advice I've ever received is really about understanding that communication is key, of course, but also that there's not one perfect person for you. You kind of have to accept what are the things that are negotiable for you and what are not."
"My mom always told me, "Whatever happens, will happen" or 'Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen." I've learned you'll know when you find the right person. When I found the right person, I knew it immediately."
18. The Five Love Languages Author Dr. Gary Chapman
"Before I discovered the concept of the 5 love languages, a bit of advice I was given was to become a student of my wife and to take time to learn what makes her feel loved. I soon learned that what makes her feel loved may not always be the thing I want to do because it may not come natural to me. But learning to love her in the way that makes her feel loved is a greater demonstration of my love for her, because I've chosen to do it with a goal of pleasing her."
"Pay attention to the girl, instead of myself. A bunch of people [told me that]. It's terrible. I'm very into myself, so people are always like, "Pay attention to the other person. Don't ever separate yourself." It's a good lesson. I'm learning. I'm doing good."
"Don't get divorced after your first argument! I have a lot of friends that have one fight and that's it, they get divorced. I go, 'Wait a minute! Oh my gosh, you guys! Calm down! You'll forget in three days what you were fighting about. I promise. So just let it marinate a little bit—that's my best love advice."
21. The Real Housewives of Miami's Adriana de Moura
"When I was about 15, [my grandmother] said something I will always remember: 'Love comes before money.' I will never let anything like greed come between us when it comes to love. She was married to my grandfather for 70 years. It's very hard to have a long-term relationship and if you're not sure, it's not going to last. Make sure that you truly love."
"If you're looking for love, focus on something you love to do and work hard. Love will find you. Basically, love yourself before you love anyone else. A lot of girls have such insecurities nowadays that you have to be comfortable with who you are before you can really have a good relationship with someone else."
"Love advice is like life advice, so there are so many elements of that. I think humor, patience, admiration are really important love elements. Love and respect. You have to respect the person that you're going to love, and you have to be confident in yourself and love yourself."
'Think about how much you'd miss that if he were gone tomorrow.' This is my senior producer's advice in my ear during our news show if I'm grumbling about my hubby, whether about his habit of leaving dirty clothes around, or the way he goes into la la land while I'm talking with him, or that he wakes me up being loud overnight. How true! Heaven forbid, but if something ever happens to our loved ones, oh how we'd long for them to be back, and their little aggravating habits would be something cherished.
"On the other hand the best love advice I've ever given is: Gals, don't marry someone for their looks. Sooner or later we all age and start to droop. Don't marry someone for their position and don't marry someone for money. Money comes and goes, and since when is that love? Marry someone because they make you laugh. Humor is always sexy. Besides, it's awfully hard to get mad at someone while they're making you laugh."
30. The Real Housewives of New York's Heather Thomson
"Well, it's one of the oldest. It really is paradoxical, but it's true: You just can't go to bed mad. You have to make up, because there's only one alternative, and that alternative is not being together. So, my husband and I always decide we might as well make up, whether we agree to disagree or not. We understand we are individuals and that together we're unbelievably powerful and that we have a family that is the most important thing, and that I wouldn't trade him for the world. So, love is about give and take, and love is about understanding that you're individuals and together as a couple, you're the strongest there ever is ifyou're in the right couple."
"I was going to say, 'It's work, relationships take work,' but that makes it sound like relationships are hard, that they're work. Rebecca and I have always gotten along really well. We've always had a really strong connection. I'm the last guy that should be giving people advice on love, that's for sure. But I have a great marriage. I just got lucky, I guess."
"I lost my dad back in the fall, and my dad said something to me a long time ago. He said, 'Are you happy with who you are now?' because we just had a real serious talk. And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Then you can't regret what got you to where you are. So whatever you do and whatever mistakes you make, learn from them and grow. And just always treat people with kindness,' which I've tried to do."
"My mom always used to say, "You can't say I love you before you can say I." And I think that sort of makes sense."