When I marry a couple, I say a lot of things designed specifically for the unique couple that I am marrying, but the one thing I always say in every celebration is this:
"A happy marriage is a long falling in love. It is a continuing courtship. It is a process of falling in love again and again."
They may not know it, but in these few simple statements, I am giving the secret to a long and happy relationship.
Whether we are newly dating, or in the first stages of a burgeoning relationship, or in a long and committed one, these sentences are the alchemical formula for a real and lasting love.
The newly dating couple has the advantage, of course. Because they are new. Everyone is trying their best, and being their best, and wanting the best for each other.
And that's the key. To forget about ourselves. For true love is selfless. We can be truly for each other. We do not see each others faults so sharply; we do not have a long list of grievances because we are looking at each other with new eyes. And as we do, we can fall more deeply in love.
But how do you re-fall in love when maybe the luster has dulled? What happens to our relationship when we start to take each other for granted? Or forget why we fell in love in the first place?
So, here are the 3 important rules to a happy relationship.
1. Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. Act like you just met. See your partner with new eyes. Let them surprise you! And then they will!
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you are confused or unsure, talk about it. Say, "I am confused. I don't understand." Then see what your partner says. Tell the truth. Don't be strategic. Be innocent. True love is innocent. It doesn't matter if you've been hurt in the past. Don't bring the past into your current relationship. Resist the temptation to hold resentments of past events. Which leads me to rule three ...
3. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Love holds no grievances. Learn to make up quickly. Try to go to sleep without hurt feelings. If there are negative feelings from the past, talk about them until you see your way through.
With these three rules you can build a lasting and deeply loving relationship. For love really is always the answer.
-- Diana Lang is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and author of OPENING TO MEDITATION