Whatever kind of love relationship you are in, one thing is for certain: love is like a rollercoaster filled with ups, downs, and everything in between. My husband, Jesse, and I have been together for 23 years and married for 15, and throughout the years we have gone through easy and hard times and good and bad experiences.
And we expect many more of the same.
Thankfully, no matter what challenges we are faced with, we are always willing to learn and grow together, which has helped us evolve not only as individuals, but as a couple.
As a passionate reader, I have enjoyed sticking my nose into all sorts of books, and throughout our relationship, I have found books on love or the psychology of love to be extremely helpful. When it comes to loving my husband, my reading and experiences have taught me many characteristics on how to build a good relationship.
The following is a list of the top three most important principles I have learned:
Learn About Each Other
To survive any relationship, one must learn about yourself and about your partner. This is not a one and done deal. As you grow, you change. Therefore, you must continuously learn about each other. These steps include:
- In learning about each other, you must begin the process of exploration in the areas of childhood, fears, protections, consequences, values, expectations, and responsibilities.
- Allow yourself to be open to being affected by your partner. You must be willing to experience transitory pain and fear from knowing the truth about yourself and your partner.
- Believe in the important reasons for both your own and your partner’s feelings and behavior.
Meet Each Other’s Needs
Early into our relationship I read a book titled, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Dr. Willard F. Harley, where I learned the importance of meeting each other’s needs. To do so, one must first learn what your partner’s top needs are and vice versa—never assume you know.
Every person’s needs are different and not meeting those needs can easily create a path to an unhappy marriage or divorce. Over Dr. Harley’s career as a psychologist and marriage counselor working with men and women, he has learned that the top five needs for men and women are often categorized as follows:
- Honesty and Openness
- Financial Support
- Family Commitment
- Sexual Fulfillment
- Recreational Companionship
- An Attractive Spouse
- Domestic Support
Although these needs do not apply to all men and women, the list serves as a perfect example that people have different needs, and it is important to learn what they are early on in a relationship.
One of the greatest principles is the importance of growing together. Throughout our twenty-three years together, it has become exceptionally clear that our relationship gets easier as we evolve as a couple. Even our arguments seem shorter and less complicated. Of course, we still have our disagreements, but they have differed in the sense that they used to last for hours or days because we were both so stubborn and strong-willed. Now, it has become so much easier for us to “agree to disagree” and quickly put our differences aside.
“If you think ‘you’re not the person I married,’ you are probably right. When we marry, we are full of elusions and expectation. As our partners grow and change and reveal themselves, we are challenged to adapt and accept them for who they are. To the degree that we can do this, we are likely to experience the same from them. Change is the only constant in life. Marriage provides a great curriculum for learning to accept the inevitability of change in each other, ourselves, and the world.” – Linda and Charlie Bloom, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married. Simple Lessons to Make Love Last.
Although it may be nearly impossible to master the art of love, for me, it is worth every smile, tear, frustration, and fulfillment associated with it.
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” - Erich Fromm
xx - Jen
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