So many couples look for the "right" way to think and act to ensure the health of their relationship. Some may read the most popular relationship enhancing, self-help books. Others watch successful couples to (hopefully) unlock the answers to making a marriage work. We look for the answers outside of ourselves, believing that we do not have all we need to make a relationship work. The truth is: the answer has been hiding inside the two of you all along.
A relationship that works is a place where both people can be their true selves and be accepted by one another for their uniqueness. This does not mean the relationship is a fairy tale all of the time. It simply means at the end of the day both partners know that they want to be together and that there is nothing they cannot work through; as long as they do it together.
Partners Complement, Not Complete or Compete
In a successful relationship the partners are great complements to one another. One may bring fun spontaneity while the other brings structure and security. One partner may spend more while the other saves. The key is that each partner loves and respects the differences in the other. They have come to terms with the differences and understand the need for the complement to balance the life they share. A relationship that will withstand decades of challenges is one that has two complete people. The challenge is to be complete in the relationship and still understand that you need to depend on one another. Some couples struggle with competition, putting themselves above their partner because of one trait or another. Again, respect for your partner's differences will bring you together while putting your character traits above your partner's will slowly pull the two of you apart.
Finding Your Voice
"If we learn to fight fair we would be happy". This is not entirely true. Yes, it is important to speak in a way that you can be most effective, but your message is still important. So many couples come to counseling because one partner has lost their voice. They struggle to say what they need or want. If you do not say what you need how can you expect the other person to know? Successful couples realize that neither of the two are mind-readers. Your wishes, needs, and boundaries need to be vocalized. Speak up!
A real, intimate, mature relationship is one in which two very different people can love and respect one another. We all come from different experiences that make us all unique. Couples sometimes struggle to remember that the characteristics and behaviors that irritate you now are the same ones that attracted you in the first place. Trying to change your partner or change yourself into someone else not will not save your relationship. Love is flexible. Bend, stretch, and create the love you want without bending yourself all out of shape.