Tonight, I joined my parents for dinner. Now, going out on a Monday is not something we normally do, but tonight we decided to make an exception. August 10th is their wedding anniversary - 46 years!
As I will celebrating 16 years next month, I started thinking about what it takes to have a successful relationship. I'm not saying that one size fits all, but I came up with my top 10 list.
1. Don't just decide to stay together - decide to stay together and be happy.
I hear about couples staying together for the kids or because they can't afford to divorce. Well, if you are going to be together, why not be happy together? Happiness is a decision. Once the decision is made to be together AND be happy, you start focusing your attention on doing things that lead to good times...and happiness emerges.
2. Don't be afraid to let the other shine.
Being supportive of each other's personal goals lets each person become the best they can be. Everyone has a purpose. Letting the other person fulfil that purpose makes them a better spouse. Also, having individual interests makes the relationship more interesting.
3. Be silly.
While my hubby will deny this, we get a little silly every now and then. Dance contests. Singing battles. Dressing my dog up (okay, that's just me). But you get the idea. Nothing beats a good laugh.
4. Take vacations.
Whether it's one night at the hotel down the street, a week in Aruba, or a month on the Amalfi Coast, plan getaways for just the two of you. Explore new things - even if it's just in your hometown. We live in the DC area, so there's a ton of things to do - museums, theatre, monuments. Make time for each other, even if you just take the day off and enjoy. And don't just enjoy the sites, enjoy being with each other.
5. Embrace the 80/20 rule.
I'm not sure if this was original when they used it in the movie Why Did I Get Married? But I like it. It says your spouse will only give you 80% of what you want. The other 20? You probably won't get it - but you can't go looking for it in someone else. Because if you do, you'll end up with 20% - but you won't have the 80%. Now, I'm sure I can identify some of the 20% my husband is doing without: I'm not the best cook or the neatest person. And I'm sure he could add a lot more to this list. But no matter how long each of our lists are - the 80% far outweighs the 20%.
6. Don't let your friends/family infiltrate your relationships.
Don't know how to make this clearer. You work out your relationship issue with the person you are in a relationship with - not outsiders. Family and friends may mean well (and sometimes they don't). If you do need to seek outside help (which I've known people to do and it has helped them tremendously), seek out a professional.
7. Have a mission bigger than the two of you.
I have a passion for helping others - both through my business and through the charities I support, such as the Innocence Project. My goal is change the lives of millions for the better. My hubby has a soft spot for the devastating drop-out rates of males in inner cities. As a couple, we know that the impact we want to have is bigger than us - so we don't want to waste precious time with petty relationship stuff.
8. Act like you love each other.
Love is an action verb. It should be demonstrated in the way you talk to each other, treat each other, talk about each other when the other person is not there, and the way you act and carry yourself.
9. Learn how to deal with conflict.
There will be disagreements - and they have to be resolved. You need to talk about how you will deal with issues around money, children, career, family, religion, money, money, money and money.
10. Be selfish - with your relationship.
Protect it. Be devoted to it. Care for it. Make it the priority. Put it above all else.
Well, that's all I got. Feel free to agree, disagree or add your own. I'd love to hear what makes your relationship a success.