This guest article from Psych Central was written by Kate Thieda
Today is my parents’ 47th anniversary. They say rain on your wedding day is good luck, and, according to my parents, it poured on their special day.
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I believe there are some basics that are necessary for any relationship to survive. Today I will share with you what I have learned from my parents as some of the basic ingredients of having a relationship that can stand the test of time, no matter what challenges are thrown your way.
- Be each other's best friend, advocate, and ally. My parents know each other better than anyone else. They made it a priority to create a relationship that works for both of them. No one else is going to care about your relationship like you and your partner can.
- Know what the other one likes and loves, and bring that into their lives. My dad would routinely save a little money on the side to buy Mom presents, sometimes for a special occasion, or other times, just because. Mom would do the same for Dad as well. Surprises don't have to cost money though–little love notes, a massage, a special homecooked meal, or anything that would bring a smile to your partner's face will do.
- Have individual interests, but find some passions to share as well. Between the two of them, my parents are on practically every committee/volunteer organization that exists in their small town in Michigan. On some, they volunteer together, but they have their own activities they attend solo as well. It's important for both of you to engage in the world and to make and maintain connections.
- Play to each other's strengths. My parents did an amazing job of dividing up the routine responsibilities that come with raising a family and taking care of the everyday stuff. The ball very rarely got dropped in our house because no one was doing something they weren't capable of or–more importantly–didn't want to be doing (with maybe the occasional exception). I have clients in my practice who feel they have to do things they don't want to do when perhaps a simple conversation with their partner would allow them to at least get a break from the chore or responsibility every once in a while.
- Remember why you decided to have a relationship in the first place. My parents have actually been a couple for more than 50 years since they began dating as juniors in high school. While of course time has changed them, both physically and mentally, they still remember the qualities that brought them together all those years ago. What made you fall in love with your partner? Can you still see those traits in them? If not, can you look a little harder to find them? Happy relationships take effort.
- Communicate about the hard stuff. There are no secrets between my parents. They know that the best way to handle concerns and issues is to just be honest, figure out together what the best course of action is, and do it.
- Be willing to be flexible and honor your partner's wishes when you can. Something tells me Mom didn't really want the Corvette that sits in their driveway, but she knew Dad had a dream, so there it is.