With all the relationship advice we hear nowadays (and no, Cosmopolitan is not the woman’s Bible), it can be hard to hard to keep it straight. Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Or does out of sight lead to out of mind? Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? How do we make sense of it?
After taking a quarter of the Psychology of Intimate Relationships with Professor Benjamin Karney, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about love—you’ve got to be committed, lucky, and it helps to be wealthy. A bit of a bitter pill to swallow when you thought love could conquer all—which it can—but it conquers much more easily when it’s in a mansion with palm trees surrounding it than when it’s an apartment with a water bill not paid and a faucet that can’t get fixed.
But here is some practical advice that Karney offers—whether you’re rich or poor, far apart or close, old or young:
1. Make your relationship a priority: Find ways to make your partner’s life better on a daily basis. Take active steps to create new experiences and reflect on positive memories. Keep the spark alive by trying new things together.
2. Build a relationship on the future: Yes, perhaps you’re not in a mad hot romance that could be the plot of a Danielle Steele novel, but emphasize your companionate love for each other. There’s a special bond there that goes beyond passion.
3. Create security for each other: We all need to feel understood, validated, and cared for. Eliminate the sense of threat in your relationship so that you can grow closer.
4. Spend time together: Know what is going on each other’s lives. Care.
5. Think carefully: Be wise with your words. Find ways to open yourself to communication rather than close yourself off. Be polite and apologize if you make a mistake.
6. Have good mental hygiene: Think well of your partner. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
7. Disclose: It’s a special gift you share with your special someone. Listen and respond with interest and be willing to share your own thoughts.
8. Celebrate individuality: Realize that your partner is unique and distinct. You can’t change your partner in a fundamental way. Embrace them as a complete package.
9. Look out for yourself: Be smart about the relationships you choose to get in to. Don’t be naïve.
10. Not all relationships are meant to be: 50% of marriages end in divorce. Be careful when you walk done the aisle; the flowers will wilt—don’t let your marriage as well.
You can read Professor Karney’s interview here: http://thesunnygirl.com/?p=1832
I wish you all the best in your relationships—whether it’s with your friends, family, or your special someone. I think this advice applies to any special relationship we have in our life. May you love and be loved in return.
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook