8 Ways to Maintain a Long-Term Relationship

8 Ways to Maintain a Long-Term Relationship

After the initial sparkly and exhilarating rush of falling in love diminishes, most relationships often find themselves in a rut. This might look like the norm but there are actually couples who enjoy long-term relationship success. If it so, what could be responsible for these different relationship outcomes?

To start with, commitment to work and family is often an issue to contend with for many couples. This often makes it easy to neglect the relationship and watch it become a boring routine.

At the same time, most people have the wrong idea that “you shouldn’t have to try and make a relationship work”. This is completely wrong! The truth is that you need to keep up with your partner’s needs and also be attentive to the state of your relationship. Otherwise, you loving relationship is heading for the rocks or more likely a divorce.

On a whole, relationships generally go through many phases. And the longer you are with someone, the more the phases you’ll go through together.

Thus, the truth is that sustaining a committed and monogamous long-term relationship requires a lot of real hard work.

During your journey together, there’ll definitely be lots of great times but also expect to have some really bad times too. So, you should expect those days when you’ll feel like just calling it quit. At such times, you’ll find yourself asking if you can or if you really want to do it anymore. However, they’re normal feelings you should expect to experience when in a long-term relationship with someone you love.

There are times when a relationship starts losing its luster. In most cases, this happens when one or both partners stop nurturing and attending to one another’s need and feelings.

For a long-term relationship to grow and thrive both emotionally and physically, it is important to feed it with care and attention. Otherwise, they become boring.

Can Romance Last in a Long-Term Relationship ?

Happy couple having a laugh together

In this regard, most Psychologist are of the opinion that the intense feeling of romantic love lasts for about 18 months to about three years at the maximum. However, in 2007, renown anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher and her colleagues, carried out a research.[1] They made brain scans of people who were in their 50s and who had been married for an average of 21 years. The participants claimed that they were still madly in love with their spouses.

From the scan results, the brain activities of the older lovers showed virtually the same activity as those of young lovers who had been in love for about seven months. The only observable important difference was that the older lovers’ brain regions associated with anxiety were no longer active. Rather, they had activity in the regions associated with calmness.

Thus, couples in long-term relationships can actually maintain the excitement of being in love. They can also deepen the feelings of passion and intimacy between them as they grow older together without it diminishing.

Unfortunately, most research of failed relationships and marriages indicate that most couples appear to be unwilling to put in the required work to make their relationships work.

Coincidentally, those who have been in successful long-term relationships admit that it does take a lot of hard work. Conclusively, successful long-term relationships require hard work.

Therefore, if you’re ready to put in the hard work, enjoying the tremendously benefits of a long-term relationship can be yours.

To help you on your quest, we’ve assembled a list of the core elements that you need to maintain a healthy and thriving long-term relationship. Enjoy your reading!

1. Make Your Needs Known

Giving in a long-term relationship should be reciprocal and habitual. Most times, we tend to put our partner’s needs and desires first. But always making all the sacrifices can start taking a toll on you later and isn’t healthy for any long-term relationship.

It’s important to be realistic about whether or not the continued sacrifices matter to you. If you feel your partner should be more contributory, then communicate your feelings about what you need from them. And as usual, remember to compromise where necessary.

Also, remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader. They may also not be able to perfectly interpret the cues you might be using to express your needs. Thus, it’s safer to express those needs verbally or try a text message or an email where such warrants.

So, it’s important to clearly say what you specifically need from your partner. At the same time, always be ready to give back to your partner. And ensure you do as you promised while respectfully and with an open mind encouraging your partner to do same.

2. Honest Communication

Long-term Relationship - Older Africa-American couple chatting on sofa

The quality of the communication between you and your partner is positively correlated with the quality of your relationship. Honest communication in a long-term relationship helps both of you to better understand each other. It’s also what helps to deepen your connection and solve problems before they get out of control.

It’s imperative that you and your partner MUST find ways to always have open and honest communication about your feelings and needs. Without such an open channel of communication, your chances of a successful long-term relationship are very slim or nonexistent.

A very important part of the communication process is the art of listening. To have effective communication with your partner, learn to speak less and listen more.

You need to also remember that when feelings are involved in anything, they always need to be heard. One way to build a closer connection to your partner is to always pay close attention to whatever they’re saying. This way, they feel heard and loved.

One of the best ways to address an issue is to be “soft on the person, firm on the issue.” No matter how annoyed you might be, learn to separate the person from the issue or behavior. This way, you’ll be able to better focus on the issue and how to resolve it rather than attacking your partner.

Likewise, learn to be more vulnerable and authentic with your partner when in a long-term relationship. You can do this by being more open and honest in talking about your feelings, thoughts, needs, and any personal thing you feel they need to know about you. Being vulnerable is one of the greatest ways to create true emotional intimacy with your partner.

Some Vital Communication Tips

  • When the disagreement gets heated, avoid interrupting your partner, defending yourself too soon, or offering a solution.
  • When your partner gives you a feedback over any issue, avoid making excuses or counterattacking them. Instead, give them the benefit of doubt and look for any possible kernel of truth in what they said.
  • When you’re trying to raise a difficult issue with your partner, try to pass your message across in a respectful but assertive manner.
  • It is important to pay close attention to the nonverbal cues that your partner might be showing. Do their body language correlate with what is being said?
  • During conversation with your partner, always make sure to maintain eye contact. Also, ensure to always speak with love and understanding.

3. Compromise

To move your relationship forward, it’s important to ensure that there’s a balance between your needs and that of your partner. Always strive for a mutually beneficial compromise whenever there’s a disagreement.

One thing a lot of couples fail to realize is that though they’ve come together as a couple, their individual independence while in the union is very important for its survival. Losing your identity should not happen simply because you’re united with your partner. Such a situation makes it very difficult to have a healthy long-term relationship.

Therefore, your differences in personality as well as needs will definitely cause issues in the relationship. However, you don’t have to turn every disagreement into a battle. There will definitely be those that you need to discuss and resolve, and which you should. Yet, there are other trivial ones that you can easily let go of.

Thus, compromising is basically finding a way whereby your needs and those of your partner can be satisfied in a mutually beneficial way. The goal is to avoid neglecting any partner’s needs.

A simple way to compromise with your partner is by agreeing, let’s say, to do something your way today, and then you deferring to your partner’s way next time.

Take for instance that both of you have different programmes you each love watching. Unfortunately, both of them are scheduled for the same time weekly. In this case, you can both agree to watch your programme together this week and then watch your partner’s own next week.

This way, both of you give up something for the benefit of the other – all for the sake of the relationship.

To make compromising easier during disagreements, try to always weigh the importance of the issue at hand against the overall happiness and growth of your long-term relationship. If it isn’t that serious, simply let it go.

4. Fight Fairly

The worst thing an individual can do is to enter into a relationship and expecting never to fight. You’re two different people and living together might be harder than you thought.

In fact, Dr. Gottman’s research shows that if after 3 years into a relationship, you’re not fighting, then it’s an indicator of an unhealthy relationship.

So, if you’re not fighting, it’s often a sign of withdrawal. Put another way, complaining and fighting in an intimate relationship are expressions that you care.

Arguing in a long-term relationship is both normal and natural. No relationship on earth is trouble-free. Thus, if you aren’t fighting after some years together, it simply means that both of you aren’t communicating.

As earlier mentioned, you need to choose what arguments are worth your consideration and which ones to let go. A lot of couples fight over the most trivial stuffs when other important issues are begging for attention.

Also, Dr. Gottman says that 69 percent of what most couples fight over are perpetual in nature. These stuffs don’t go away year in year out. So, the most important thing in fighting fair is to choose the right battles to engage in.

And when a disagreement does occur in a long-term relationship, ensure to talk about the facts and how you feel about them rather than attacking your partner’s person. Avoid the blame game and don’t bring in the past.

Also, during a strong disagreement, always keep in mind that it takes up to 20 positive statements to outweigh the harm done by one negative one.

Once the conflict is resolved, try to forgive each other and forget about the issue. It is also vital to focus on reconnecting and rebuilding intimacy with your partner.

With the right tools and attitude, conflicts can become a gateway for you and your partner to develop deeper intimacy. Thus, conflicts should be viewed as a great way to learn and develop through your interpersonal difficulties.

5. Be Honest and Trust Your Partner

Long-term Relationship - Happy middle aged couple indoors

You cannot overemphasize the importance of trust in a success long-term relationship. In fact, most people value the trust and honesty from their partners above most other things in their relationship. They desire nothing more than to be able to completely depend on their partner without question or doubt.

Thus, it won’t be out of place to infer that trust is the singular most important predictor of success in any long-term relationship.

Ask yourself if you can completely rely and depend on your partner to be there for you when you need them most. Also, sincerely ask yourself if you can be the same for your partner.

Cultivate trust by being honest at all times and learn to keep confidences. Also, try being consistent in your actions and always be there for your partner both emotionally and physically. Also, ensure to do what you say you’ll do and always respect your partner’s personal boundaries.

It is the trust you share with your partner that makes you to be relaxed and truly vulnerable with them. Thus, you become more open to being honest, sharing your secrets and being more generous in your offers to compromise.

At times it might not be easy but it’s always best to be honest with your partner. Tell them the truth now and address it squarely than let it fester and cause more serious problems later. Remember that honesty is the best policy, especially in a long-term relationship.

Yet, you might need to be flexible at times when your partner might not have been completely honest with you. There’s no need to blow some things out of proportion as we all tell some white lies at times. Rather, focus on the big things that can truly erode trust in your relationship.

6. Compatible Intimacy

Connecting intimately with your partner is vital to a successful long-term relationship. Try understanding each other’s intimacy priorities and connecting in ways that are important to both of you.

Research shows that physical connection helps in building more trust in a relationship. And the reason for this is because human touch aids the release of oxytocin – the love hormone. So, hold hands when you’re walking together, run your hand through their hair, kiss the back of the ear, or give them a brush on cheek.

Also, the more emotional vulnerability you share as a couple, the deeper your emotional intimacy will be. This will help to build your marital friendship, increase trust, and deepen the connection needed for long-term relationship success.

I would like to infer at this point that emotional vulnerability can be summed to be the most important factor to sustaining a long-term relationship. Why? Because it’s what helps you develop the deepest level of trust and connection possible in your relationship.

Also, a key component to developing more intimacy is how much time both of you share together. Want to reduce stress and experience greater happiness in your relationship? Then spend more time talking with each other.

Try to talk face-to-face for about 30 minutes every day – of course you can flexible about it. Don’t just listen to what your partner is saying, but also pay attention to the emotion underneath the spoken words. Be sensitive and zero-in to the tone of their voice, their body language, and also the content of their words.

The key is to understand each other’s intimacy needs and mutually strive to satisfy both when you want success in your long-term relationship.

7. Have Compatible Financial Values

Gold coins

When it comes to the issue of what couples fight about, research shows that money outranks all other topics as the number-one area of conflict among married couples.[2] This is obviously why it’s also the number one reason for the high rise in divorce rates.

The research also indicated that the fights are not a function of how much money the couples have or don’t have. They found that couples fight over money irrespective of what their income is.

While higher income does reduce stress, they don’t necessarily stop the fighting. The reason is because most couples have conflicting spending and saving styles.

Thus, open discussions about money issues are likely to be the most difficult issues you and your partner will have to resolve. [3] In one study of more than one thousand married couples, 32 percent of the participants said money was the most important issue they discussed before getting married. [4]

So, it’s important that both of you share similar financial values from the onset of the relationship. Together, both of you should formulate a viable financial plan that takes care of both your short-term and long-term financial goals.

At the same time, it’s necessary to pay close attention to any possible financial discontents. Try to immediately initiate constructive discussions for early resolution of such differences.

Thus, make sure you and your partner sit down and discuss where both of you stand financially. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine and such interventions are vital for long-term relationship success.

8. Maintain Your Individual Identities

Most people enter into relationships hoping to find completeness and experience true happiness. But this is why many people feel unfulfilled and empty in their long-term relationships.

True peace of mind and heart can only come from within. Nobody else can make you happy, that power is your sole prerogative. This internal tranquility is a function of your emotional and spiritual well-being. It does not depend on any external factor or relationship.

A Michigan State University study examined data from a fifteen-year study of 24,000 individuals and their answer to the question, “Are married people happier than unmarried people?

“Most people who get married and stay married were more satisfied with their lives than their non-married peers long before the marriage occurred.”, the researchers noted. So, happy people create happy marriages.

It’s also important to understand that you become a team when commit to or marry to someone. Marriage is like a football team that needs to function at its best. Yet, for the team to achieve success, each member of the team has to keep their different unique qualities. What they do is to synergize their qualities to make the team a more formidable force.

Generally, losing your identity in a love relationship poses a lot of threat to maintaining the intimacy thereof. Thus, it significantly reduces your chances of having long-term relationship success.

Loving your partner doesn’t mean losing your identity or respect for your natural separateness. The goal should be for both of you to strive to complement and support each other. This way, you both help one another to synergistically achieve your fullest individual potentials.

When your individual complete selves merge, both of you readily feel fulfilled and happy in the relationship. This greatly helps to create a stronger and more committed long-term relationship.