Make your partner feel good and don't forget the little things.
Developing the secure, fulfilling bond you deserve with your partner is hard work, but it is not impossible. And for couples trying to figure out how to make a relationship last, there are a few things your relatioship must have to begin with.
Below are five characteristics of every strong bond. When you have them, only then can you help create a deep, loving connection with your partner and have the everlasting love you've dreamed of.
1. You and your partner must become best friends.
But what is a best friend? A best friend is likely someone you have known for a long time. You probably know them better than anyone. You had an initial connection based on common interests and enjoyment of each other's company that grew into a solid, trustworthy, caring relationship.
From this history, you have established a level of comfort so great that you can take risks and allow yourself to be vulnerable around your best friend. You can talk to your best friend without judgment or fear. This is a person you really love.
This kind of connection cannot be rushed and it cannot be forced. Friendship often blooms from exciting but low-pressure situations. It strengthens through communication and developing trust.
Take the time to first just have fun with your partner. Learn all you can about what they like and dislike, have adventures and make each other laugh. Know that this is a person you really like being around!
When you enjoy someone's company, it becomes easy and even normal to open up. If you can share the best of times, you likely feel comfortable sharing the not-so-great thoughts and feelings we all experience. Open up to your partner and encourage them to share with you from a place of friendship: like a best friend would, withhold judgment unless they ask for your opinion.
Always support them and comfort them. A best friend is a fellow team member, not a rival. Every truly bonded relationship begins with a team of supportive best friends.
2. Believe in the power of your love.
Unconditional love has the ability to transform people. Even when it seems far-fetched, it's important to keep believing the love that drew you and your partner together will continue to better both of your lives.
Allow yourself to feel deserving and strong because of your relationship. Dream and fantasize about how beautiful it can really make both of you! Believe that together, you can conquer anything. This will increase your dedication and your trust with each other, making you closer and happier.
You must also believe in the continued presence of romance! Never forget to keep expressing your love. Dates, cards, flowers, emails and sticky-notes on the bathroom mirror — even the smallest gesture will bring joy to your partner. Those simple reminders and reassurances are vital to developing a deep bond.
Especially when it comes to anniversaries, birthdays and holidays, it's very important to remember to remind your partner that you care. We have so much technology now to keep track of times and dates that there is no excuse for forgetting!
But there is no reason to wait for a certain day to show your partner you care. Whenever you think of expressing your true love, do it! These expressions will help you be vulnerable and sensitive to what your partner needs. Even when things aren't going so well, acknowledging you believe in your romantic relationship will help strengthen your connection and build that strong, loving bond.
3. Never stop courting your partner.
While those late nights you had while dating — staying up till 2 AM talking, feeling too excited to sleep — don't last forever, the idea of courting your partner should never totally disappear. When we first meet people, we are very observant. We go out of our way to do small things to show them that we care. We learn all we can about them and continually try to make a good impression.
Eventually, especially once we feel established in a relationship, we sometimes forget to make our partner a priority. We get caught up in our own lives again and have to go back to "reality".
But that initial love and attention was not some fantasy world — you can maintain that connection by remembering to return to those courting behaviors. Remember your partner's likes and interests might change, and there is always more to learn about them.
Remind yourself that you should keep trying to impress your partner, no matter how long you've been together. To really establish and maintain a close connection, make your courtship last forever.
4. Be emotionally available and vulnerable with your partner.
The most important thing you can give to your partner is the knowledge they can come to you with anything. This requires an opening up on both sides. When one of you expresses your feelings, the other one must give support and provide comfort. Being present is extremely important in showing your partner you care.
"Are you there for me?" is often the most important question a partner needs to be able to answer. Being there for someone involves three characteristics:
- Accessibility: Your partner must feel like you will open up to them, even if one of you has had a bad day. They must know that you will drop everything to be with them.
- Responsiveness: Your partner must know you will come when they call. They must know you will be responsive when you are present.
- Engagement: Your partner must know you will open up to them and share with them, as well.
Being there for your partner also requires an appreciation of the little things in your relationship. Even if some actions seem so mundane that you forget about them. Maybe your partner makes your lunch every day, fills your tank with gas for you or makes the bed every morning — try to take some time to acknowledge these actions.
Ask yourself: What if these things disappeared? They may take on a different meaning and importance. Receiving thanks for the little things will make your partner feel good about doing them, and it will show that you're aware of all they do for you.
Awareness of the little things paves the way for a closer, more trusting relationship. When larger issues arise, the sense of appreciation your partner feels from you can help keep everything in perspective. When your partner comes to you in need of serious support, knowing that you are already able to acknowledge the little things is helpful and comforting.
Being able to acknowledge, address and listen to those bigger concerns is obviously just as important. When fears and insecurities creep in, your partner must know you will support them. They must know and believe that they are the most important person in your life, and vice versa. The deepest bonds come from really knowing that you can count on each other.
5. Have fun together.
In a close, loving, bonded relationship, both people have to feel that their connection is about fun and laughter — you can't take each other too seriously. If the first four steps are fulfilled, having fun with each other isn't too difficult.
When you feel a close bond, you know what the other person cares about, you know how to be there for them and you also know how to make them laugh and how to bring them joy. Even when things are stressful, a closely bonded couple will feel strongly enough about each other that they can just let go and enjoy each other's company.
So make time to laugh! Bring up old stories or jokes you've forgotten about. Be playful and silly again. Having fun with each other will help you and your partner develop a strong, exciting, positive bond.
In order to truly learn how to make a relationship last, each partner has to take responsibility for their own role and contributions. If you are both on the same page and both willing to put in the effort, you should be able to more closely and happily connect with your partner.
Stuart Fensterheim is a marriage and family counselor with a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. His practice is exclusive to individuals, couples and families who are having relationship difficulties.