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“Here’s to a Happy and Successful Relationship”

May 2, 2007
by Lianne Avila, MA, MFT

Everybody wants to have a happy and successful relationship. We must remember that good relationships don't just happen - after all, we're not living in a fairy tale. We have to work at it.

Here are 10 important keys for a happy and successful relationship!

1. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Don't expect your partner to read your mind.  We all know that men and women use different languages - learn to speak your partner's language.  Learn to listen - God gave us two ears and one mouth.

2. Resolve conflicts or disagreements respectfully.

It is a myth that happy couples never disagree.  You are two unique people - of course you'll think differently about things.  Learn to resolve conflicts when you are calm and can think things through rationally.  And always try to maintain the other person's dignity and self-esteem.  That means no name calling!

3. Have goals for your relationship.

Don’t be intimidated by the word goal, it is always a good idea to set goals together as a couple - whether 3-month, 6-month, 1-year or 5-year goals.  All we're saying is that the two of you should agree on what you want from or out of your relationship.  When you do this, it helps to keep both of you united with a common vision.  To give you an example, your goal this year might be to have more fun together as a couple.  And how you'll do that is to schedule two date nights every month and maybe take a fun class together, like a dance class.

4. Stop keeping score.

A successful relationship is one where each party gives 100%, not 50-50.  "I did this so you must do that" does not make for a happy time!  We women are particularly good at keeping score and this can be really bad for our relationships because we give from a position of expectation instead of out of love.

5. Keep the romance alive.

Get out of the habit of only talking about mundane things like if your phone account has been paid or who needs to collect the kids from ballet or soccer.  Remember when you first fell in love?  How you spoke for hours on end just staring at one another?  Start flirting again - use SMS, email, phone, notes on pillows, etc.

6. Ensure that each other's needs are met.

Men and women have very different ideas of what is most important to them.  If you don't know what your partner's top five needs are, ask them!  It will help you understand why they behave the way they do. Just to give you an idea of how needs differ, women usually rate security in their top three while men usually rate sex in their top three!

7. Decide to be happy rather than right.

I know I'm going to tread on my toes now BUT you need to continually ask yourself, do I want to be happy or right?  Please understand that I'm not saying you should become a doormat.  But, sometimes you have to ask yourself this really hard question. You may win the argument but have you won in love?  Learn to admit when you're wrong and say sorry.

8. Focus on your partner's strengths.

Sometimes we forget why we fell in love. Start to focus on the positive rather than the negative.  When you're focused on what a good father your husband is, it's hard to keep remembering that he leaves the toilet seat up, or forgets to change the toilet roll.

9. Make time for fun.

Notice I said "make time."  You have to schedule it because if you wait until you have time to do fun things, you'll be waiting forever!  Take time out to laugh at silly things, go see romantic comedies, leave silly notes in his car or on his pillow.

10. Say "I love you" often!

These three words mean a lot.  You will never get tired of hearing them.

Remember, you can do it! Here's to your awesome relationship!


Lianne Avila, MFT

Breast Cancer Survivor


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