I’ve been married a long time. This summer my husband and I celebrated 50 years together. Yep, you read that right – FIFTY. People have been asking me “What advice do you have for someone who is still at the beginning of the journey?”
What to say? How to describe what works and what doesn’t work in a marriage, or in any relationship, for that matter? There are certain days when some things work out fine. There are other days when the same interaction just fizzles.
I’ve narrowed it down to 2 Simple Suggestions:
Not just talking, but really communicating means looking at one another, actively listening, speaking up and being honest. Did you get that? – LOOK, LISTEN, SPEAK UP, BE HONEST.
LOOK. This sounds obvious, but how many times have you tried to have a conversation with someone who is not only not looking at you but is often either tapping on a cell phone or has their eyes closed? Pay attention to your interactions and you will both get more out of the conversation.
LISTEN. To listen means to not simply hear something but to actively focus on what is being said and to understand it. If something is not understood, it is up to you to ask for clarification. Don’t assume you “got it” when there is still something about the exchange that was vague.
SPEAK UP. Say what you want to say. If you hold back and walk away feeling that there was more to be discussed, the fault is yours. Remember that there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself. Just make sure your delivery is considerate. Very few points are well made when shouted.
BE HONEST. You know the difference between the truth and the non-truth. If you leave things out or purposely turn an explanation around to suit the moment, it will come back to haunt you. Get it right the first time. Do that by simply being honest.
2. Keep Trying
Relationships are not easy. It makes sense that two people coming from different backgrounds with different needs and sometimes even different values have to work to sustain their love and friendship through the long-term. When times are tough and you know you have a relationship worth saving, putting in the effort is totally worth it.
HOW VALUABLE IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP ? I’ve had clients ask me how long they should KEEP TRYING. They ask “How do I know if it is really worth saving?” I can’t answer that – only you can. The question you need to ask yourself is whether YOU really think it is ‘worth it.’
Consider basic questions like:
- Am I being respected?
- Am I being considered?
- Am I getting as much as I am giving?
Coming up with honest answers to these questions is a good place to start your evaluation.
DON’T GIVE UP EASILY. The road is full of bumps and frustrations (as well as joy and satisfaction), and it is up to you to do what you can to smooth things out when that road gets rough. But some things you can control and some you can’t. You have control over YOURSELF and your actions. Relationships require a ‘team’ effort, and this means that each person is giving their best towards the common goal.
So, find your voice and be heard; listen when your partner is the one doing the talking, and always keep trying to live the life of your dreams. I wish you happiness and good health, love and laughter, and a strong and cherished team that lasts at least 50 years!
Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Antonio_Diaz