mangostock/Shutterstock
Source: mangostock/Shutterstock

1. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.

No, that doesn’t mean cheating. By "mistakes" I mean doing things within the boundaries of the relationship with good intent, and then taking responsibility for them if they were not healthy. Without mistakes, there is no growth. So this process simulates change and growth. The glue comes in taking risks and making mistakes as a couple, then learning from them and becoming stronger as a team.    

2. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

Many people believe relationships should come naturally, like the rush of dopamine that shot into your brain when you first met. Actually, to be in a monogamous relationship in which you are constantly challenged to look at yourself and compromise your wants or needs is unnatural. It goes against our natural human instincts. To adapt and embrace this takes time — a long time. So be patient.

3. Work very, very hard.

What of value comes easy? Many people underestimate how much work it takes to make a relationship work. They tap out after the first “very." So what does very, very hard work look like? It’s different for everyone, but you will know because of that giant mountain you see in front of you, the one you’ve always avoided climbing. The second “very” means self-examination.   

4. Ask for opportunities.

Since we think we know our partner so well, we stop asking. Instead, we assume. The thing is, people change. If you want something, ask for it. Your partner's answer may be different today than it would have been yesterday. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know, and you'll never get. That’s a basic rule of life, and it applies in relationships. The process of asking or communicating creates opportunities to get to know each other better.  

5. Finish what you start.

I’m referring to arguments. Many people start an argument, but don’t finish it because it gets too heated. They walk away and never come back to it — and issues don’t get resolved. Instead, people are not heard, and there’s anger and resentment. If you walk away from a fight without consent or getting things resolved, you’re leaving the relationship for that period — and one day, there will be no one to come back to.

6. Say Yes to almost everything.

Assuming it’s healthy and the intent is good, what’s the worst that could happen? You get out pushed out of your comfort zone? That’s called an opportunity for growth. I think we say No too much in relationships. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable. If you want more yeses in your life, this is where to start.

7. Busy is a decision.

Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean it’s time to stop life. Each partner should have his or her own life. This means making a choice to be busy and work on your own container. I think many people get into a relationship and stop or slow down their own personal "busyness."  

8. Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.

Whatever dreams you had when you were single shouldn’t change because you are now in a relationship, unless it happens organically and honestly. Many give up their dreams because the relationship doesn’t allow them. Your dreams may in fact change, but don’t censor them for anyone.

9. To strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.

The key word there is you, not you both. I think many people lose themselves in their relationship because they forget about their own wants, needs, and paths. Remarkable can still happen when you’re in a committed relationship. But you have to decide that you want remarkable, and that you’re not willing to negotiate over it.

10. It is only a failure if you accept defeat.

We should fight for our relationship. Always. There’s you. There’s your partner. And then there’s the relationship. And if you accept defeat, you are not fighting for the relationship. But admitting that you are wrong is not accepting defeat — admitting that you are wrong is actually fighting for the relationship. 

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