1. Remember that your relationship will change.
Your relationship is constantly changing, and that’s healthy! You go from first date butterflies, to the crazy honeymoon stage, to a little bit more serious, to being kinda family, etc. Both of you are constantly changing and your relationship will shift with that. Be open and communicate through those changes and your relationship will be strong.
2. And you and your partner will change, too!
My husband and I have been friends a long time, together for almost seven years, and married just over a year. We’re in our mid-twenties so obviously the years we’ve been together have been a significant time of growth in each of our lives. My biggest advice is to love and accept your partner for who they are AND who they will be. It is so important to give each other space to grow and thrive as individuals, and not project onto your partner your own ideas of who they are. All of us should continue to work on ourselves throughout life and it can be suffocating to feel that you don’t have the space to do that in your relationship. It is also so exciting to see all the different versions of your SO over time.
3. Keep the flirting alive!
Been together for five years and getting married in 2019. Flirt with each other as much as you can. I'll hit on my fiancé or he'll buy me flowers and it's truly adorable.
4. That old adage, "Never go to bed mad."
My partner and I have been together for 13 years. One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me was to never go to bed mad at each other. If you have an issue or problem with something that your SO does or says then talk to them about it instead of letting it fester inside. Going to bed mad at each other carries over to the next day and makes things worse. Time is going by so fast, so you don’t want to spend the time that you and your SO could be spending together mad or angry with one another.
5. Or maybe DO go to bed angry so you'll have cooled off by the morning. Everyone's different!
Go to bed angry. You’ll fall asleep thinking you’ll still be mad and wanting to continue the fight in the morning, but you probably won’t. You’ll both cool off and be willing to discuss the issue calmly with more understanding when you wake up. If you stay up fighting you’ll just get madder and madder.
6. Make time for dates, even after you're not "dating" anymore:
Married 16 happy years. People still think we are newlyweds. The keys are communication, honesty, and making time for each other. Every week we still have a date. That could mean a movie marathon on our bed with snacks, a quick coffee and chat, or laughing over cat videos with pizza at the laundromat.
7. Apologize. Even if you KNOW you're right, chances are there's something in the fight you're having that you can say you're sorry for.
Apologize. Even if the only truthful apology that you can manage is, “I’m sorry — I didn’t mean for that to have hurt you.” It goes an incredibly long way in reminding your partner that even though they may be upset with this one thing, you love them and you’d never purposely try to upset them.
8. If you're fighting, try breaking the tension with some loving physical contact.
When my boyfriend and I are in a petty argument, one of us taps the other on the nose. The nose-tapped receiver has to shimmy immediately, no matter how mad they are. It eases the tension and we realize that what we’re bickering about doesn’t really matter.
My wife and I have a rule: If we're arguing about something, we HAVE to be holding hands. It works like a charm...as soon as we remember to hold hands it softens the argument.
9. Communicate! Nobody can read your mind.
My husband and I have been together almost 20 years and married for 14 1/2. Communication is EVERYTHING!!! Talk to each other about anything and everything. The good and the bad. And be willing to listen when they talk as well.
My husband and I have been together for 11 years, and we have one big rule: Nobody's psychic. If you don't say what you want or don't want, or how you're feeling about something, the other won't know and can't help you. It's been a marriage-saver.
10. Don't compare yourself to others. Remember that in public and on social media, people are only letting you see the best version of themselves.
Don't compare your relationship with others because you never know what they have been through or if they are happy. For all you know someone could be looking at your relationship with envy because they don't see your whole picture either.
11. Know that sometimes you'll have to carry your partner for a bit, and there will be times when they carry you.
Recognize that relationships are almost never always 50/50. Sometimes you’re going to carry 70% of the burden, whether it’s household duties, taking care of kids or pets, or just being the one giving more into the relationship, and sometimes when you need it, your partner will (or should!) carry the larger part of the burden. It’s not about being “fair,” it’s about being what the other person needs at that moment.
12. Learn how to resolve disagreements peacefully so that you can work things out before they become bigger issues.
Sweat the small stuff. No really. Learn how to fight and fight often. You will be together for a long time so you need to practice conflict resolution. So learn to talk out the socks on floor and the dishes in the sink. These little things build up a lot of resentment so don't let things build. And then when someone is unhappy in their job, or the bills get out of hand, or life gets too hard, you will know how to handle it. I'm blissfully married for 12 years and our disagreements now last five minutes and no one gets angry.
13. Remember the "four horsemen."
The Four Horsemen of the Marriage Apocalypse. Or in this case, a long-term relationship. They are Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling.
Criticism is one to look out for and be careful of doing. When we criticize we judge the person and not the behavior or action. That is complaining and not as damaging as criticizing.
Defensiveness is the most common one if we don't know how to act in a conflict. When we get defensive in a conflict, we automatically shut out what the other person is trying to say. We don't listen. We don't take blame.
Contempt is sometimes taken out of context but is, at times, done on purpose. You'll know this when you roll your eyes, or snort, or try to use humor to make your partner feel less. It's also been called being passive-aggressive or petty.
And the last is Stonewalling. To put it simply, you are pulling out of the relationship, you become "unresponsive" to anything they do.
Now, it's okay for these to happen once in a while. We are human. But if your partner is consistently using these four, you might want to reconsider the level of communication skills in your relationship.
14. Remember the "five" rule, too.
Someone taught me the "five" rule. When fighting...is this going to matter in five days...five months...five years? If it isn’t going to really truly matter in 5 days or the next day then learn to compromise or step down and try to understand each other. However if it’s really going to matter in months or years then you know you gotta really work it out and not just sweep it under the rug. This has helped me drastically with preventing myself from getting mad at my man for little petty things and making me realize what’s important and what’s not.
15. Choose to love, choose to commit.
Remember that love is a feeling AND a choice. Choose to love them every day. Even when they make it hard. Choose them every day. The second you stop choosing them is the second you give up on your love.
16. Having shared hobbies is great, but having your own is healthy too.
Don’t spend every waking second together. We each have our own hobby and keep it to ourselves. It gives us each time to do things that we love without each other.
17. When looking for a partner, find someone who is also your friend.
Be best friends and laugh as much as possible. It's awesome to be with somebody whom you love and wanna bone, but who is also your favorite person to spill all the tea to. Its important to love each other, but it's even more important to like each other.
18. Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements.
When you're upset at your partner and you confront them about it, use “I” statements, not “you” statements. “You” statements, like saying “you made me upset when you ____” creates an accusatory tone that will normally get a negative and defensive response from your partner. Instead try saying something like “I was/am upset about _____.” Being gentle from the start gets a gentle response and hopefully avoids unnecessary arguments!
19. Give them the respect and treatment that a partner deserves.
Finding someone you want to spend the rest of your life with is a huge deal so maybe you should be treating them better than you treat everyone else. My husband and I have both had that attitude since day one and we're about to hit our 12 years soon.
20. Relationship advice is great, but it might not be the right advice for you! If you find something that works, don't give it up because you're comparing yourself to others. Maybe you want to sleep separately!
Don't compare your relationship to other people's and try to live up to some unrealistic standards of what a relationship should be. Do what works for the two of you — you know each other and your relationship better than anyone else. For example, my husband and I sleep in separate rooms, and have gotten so much grief from others because that is not "normal" relationship behavior. But it works really well for us. Rather than try to conform to a relationship norm/expectation from others and be miserable with very little sleep, we do what works for us and our relationship. We have almost nine fabulous years together, and are looking forward to many more!
21. And finally, don't forget to work on your relationship with the most important person: yourself.
I've been in a relationship with myself for 54 years. So far it's going pretty good.
—Janet Gledhill, Facebook
Some submissions may have been edited for length or clarity.