We're not born with instruction manuals on how to tackle life, and that's a bummer, because if we had one on relationships we'd probably still be with our first love. Since that's not the case, it takes us years of experience in order to learn how to make a relationship work. But even then, it's hard to gauge where it really went wrong and take the right conclusions. And, to pile it up, it seems that learning is reliably easy, and the harder part is to put into practice what's been learnt.
Luckily, I'm here to help. No, do not look at me that way, I'm not going to give you the magic recipe to make it all work. Instead I'm here to tell you that it's going to require hard work and commitment. So, you've met this person you really care about, and you want to make it work? Well, brace yourself it's going to be a roller coaster ride, and the both of you will be tempted to call it quits at some point.
I can not give you specific instructions because every situation is unique, but I am going to give you three general guidelines you'll want to keep in mind.
First, do not make compromises with yourself. I see this one a lot. It only makes sense. You like the other person, and want to be with them, so you make a compromise with yourself over small things. We all did it at some point. You prepare to like your partner's hobby so you can spend more time together. You pretend to dislike something your partner has an aversion to.
That's wrong. It's plain and simple lying. Your partner will like the person they are you, and not you. And ever it's going to come back and bite you, because you'll be tired of keeping up the act.
But let's take a more extreme example: you've been together fairly long time now, and you're being neglected, or worse, abused. It does not have physical abuse, it might very well be something subtle that your partner does not realize is doing to you. You do not say anything for fear of creating friction and ultimately losing the one you love. What you do not realize is that this way you build up resentment, and as time goes by it just piles up more and more, until you can not take it anymore. Even little meaningless things may make it explode, and everything comes flowing out creating a big dent in the relationship.
Of course I realize that each one of us is different and no matter how much in love you are, you are always going to have some disagreements with your partner. So small compromises are necessary, because otherwise you're quite well attuned. still, these must be out in the open. Your partner must now that you're compromising for their sake. Please note though, if the compromises necessary become too numerous, you might want to start considering that maybe that person is just not right for you.
Now we move onto our second point: effort. A relationship requires effort, no ifs or buts. To link with our previous topic, a couple decides to go out on regular bicycle rides. The man loves it, the woman does not and agreed to it just to please her partner. But what happens when the woman asks to go visit an art gallery, and the man would rather just watch the TV? The man should be prepared to give back to his partner and accompany her. Let's say he does not, and keeps dragging her to bicycle rides without ever giving her back anything. She's ever going to realize that there's nothing in there for her. He loves her of course, and she loves him, but she's going to get fed up, and things are going to go downhill.
You must always give to your partner. We all like receiving and feeling loved and cared for, and both parties involved should give and take in similar amounts. That's not to say you have to devote everything you do to your partner, but a little gift, a small gesture, making them feel appreciated will go a long way. Never take them for granted.
Our third and final point is spending time together. This is easy while introxicated with the passion of a new relationship. But as time passes by, it becomes part of the daily routine and looses it's glamor. Your partner should not be just the one you go to bed with. you need to make the time to be together and have fun, try new things, have experiences. But more importantly you need to spend time together in order to know each other better. It may surprise how much stuff you do not know about your significant other, even after several years. Talk to each other, share laughter, sadness, debate. I know well the feeling of coming back home after a hard day at work, you just want to sit on the sofa, and everything seems to annoy you. Even your partner. And it's often fine to take time for yourself, but you must remember that a relationship requires both parties to work. We end tying with our previous point: you need to put the effort to spend as much time together, as it's the only way to strengthen and build the relationship.
So, let's recap: if you want to make your relationship work you need to be honest and avoid making compromises with yourself. Compromises with your partner may be ok. You need to put effort into the relationship and make your partner feel loved and appreciated. And you need to spend together as much time as possible. Obviously you must not abuse or betray your partner, but you would not, would you?