Steps to a successful relationship - full article

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Be honest, be open, and be truthful: This is fairly straight forward but it can be a bit scary too. Some of us are not even totally truthful to ourselves so it can be difficult to expose ourselves to others. We’re also afraid that the other person may like us less when we put everything out there. This is a valid point; some people cannot take everything that is thrown at them. But for your own sake, you need to call their attention to it and maybe ask if they would like to know. Something that will help is not just talking about your perceived wrongs but how you feel about them and how you feel speaking about them.

Be reliable and show appreciation: This usually manifests as security which is imperative in a relationship, particularly for women but also for men in a different way. We all want to feel secure; we want to know we can come home to this person and have peace. When times are not too good and you’re about to hit rock bottom in your life it is important to know that somebody will be there for you. In as much as we expect this, we should also be willing, ready and able to give it. Do you keep to time, do you keep your promises, do you show you care, do you appreciate the other person in the many ways that it is possible to do so?

Trust each other: Believe me, it can be a very stressful relationship if you cannot trust your partner. This feeling of distrust usually stems from not knowing if he/she is open and honest with you. The worst thing you can do to yourself is try to bottle it up. It will eat you up from the inside. You have to let it out, ask questions, share your own feelings and then decide to trust them. There was a lot of furor earlier this year when it came out that Tiger Woods was cheating on his wife. I know a lot of people wondered if she had suspected anything. But seriously, when you’re in a serious relationship with someone, it is best to remove all suspicion from your mind. That is, unless you have incontrovertible proof.

Communicate, and communicate some more: It is impossible to over emphasize how important this is in a relationship. It is almost impossible to have a solid relationship if the two people involved are not able to open up and talk about the things that affect them. I was discussing a plot point in my manuscript with my SO and he said, “Remember sometimes in an argument, it stops being about how it started and turns to hidden hurts and buried misunderstandings.” That is so true, and the longer these things have been simmering in the minds of those involved, the more vitriolic the current quarrel will turn out to be.

I have noticed that a lot of time when a man disregards his home, or a woman nags the man, it is because they are harboring a grudge from an earlier incident and not necessarily because of the little things that will be their first answer if you ask them. A man might say, she doesn’t know how to cook, the woman will retort, he drops his stuff every which way, but when you probe deeper, there is usually something else.

The fact is that if they sat together and really talked about these issues, they can be resolved. Sometimes it may require an outside party if the grudge has eaten too deep but most times, good communication between just the couple will do. The things to bear in mind when communicating with your partner are; place, time and tone. Remember that communication is a two way thing; you have to listen and not just yak away or try to lay down the law. For instance, if money is tight and you do not appreciate your partner’s attitude to your choice of a designer bag, you do not start that particular conversation at the mall. Also, you cannot just say what's on your mind in a disrespectful manner and call it communication.

Respect each other: It all boils down to this. Respect is usually the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Any healthy relationship has to have mutual respect between the partners. This starts from the self first. We have to respect ourselves and in turn, attract respect from those around us. At the same time, we also have to learn to give respect. There’s the saying, familiarity breeds contempt. If not checked, this may become true. It is vital to watch our tones as we joke, tease and disagree with our partners, and especially in the presence of other people. It is fine to disagree but you have to respect each other’s opinions. Agree to disagree.

You will notice that I dwelt a bit more on communication than others. That is because, I personally think it is the key that holds all the others together. I believe that if we can put most of these approaches into practice, we’ll have less stressful and more successful relationships. They will also help in other interpersonal relationships with friends, family and even colleagues at work. 

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