By Danielle Sax
Many married couples have trouble getting through the first decade of their commitment to each other. Why is it that two people in love who tie the knot often have such difficulties to keep their relationship going?
What is the secret to a long-lasting marriage?
Nobody knows the real secret, but what I do know is that it takes a daily portion of attention, dedication and investment. That is how I experience my 32-year old marriage.
It is the practice of true values toward myself and my partner that has been the basic foundation. That dedicated practice kept us together in the most challenging phases we’ve encountered. It is often in the smallest little details that we have to remind ourselves of those values so we don’t let negativity, animosity or indifference take over.
Here are three key elements that need to be present daily to have an “I do”-relationship that conquers even the most difficult obstacles in life.
1. We truly respect ourselves.
“We cannot give what we do not have.” — Marianne Williamson
You might be surprised when you read this, but respect for yourself is as important as respect for the other party in the relationship. We always read about having respect for each other, but self-respect is essential.
If you do not respect yourself, you cannot set healthy boundaries. That means that the other person will probably not respect you either. Your outer world reflects your inner world. If you do not get respect from the other party, you have to look in the mirror and see if you have the foundation of self-respect.
Only then can you really give out and live out the respect the other deserves. Why do you put up with someone who has no respect for you in the first place?
2. We’ve learned how each other communicates.
“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply.” — Anon
Too often, in a relationship, we are concerned about who is right, not about understanding the other’s point of view. I must admit that in my early years of marriage, I wasn’t even aware of my way of communicating. Nobody really told me. We have two ears and only one mouth; there’s a reason for it.
Only after my serious stress-related illness did I appreciate the quality of my husband’s communication. He’s a natural empathic listener, always being present without having to be right. We both learned to let each other in our own power, without overpowering by raising our voices nor playing the victim.
The empathic voice of silence and presence is an essential communication tool in a long lasting relationship.
3. We allow each other our freedom.
“Those who deny freedom to other, do not deserve it for themselves.” — Abraham Lincoln
If there is one thing I have learned over the years of our strong marriage, it is the importance of letting each other be “free”. Free to be who we want to be, free to go where we want to go, free to discover ourselves, still in the connection of being a couple. It is about giving each other a safe place to grow.
Having each of our own mission, vision, values and goals is essential to develop a honest, happy and resilient relationship. We admire each in our own uniqueness and motivate each other to be the best we can be. What’s more rewarding than that?
These 3 key elements are also the basis for lifetime friendships. There lies the link in the following quote: “A lasting marriage always begins with an enduring friendship.”
Cheers to the miracle of you and your partner!
To discover more simple-but-powerful steps to activate more conscious self-love, self-care and true love in your life, visit my website.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
More from YourTango: