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5 Keys to a Successful Relationship

2. Prioritize happiness, not being right.

Key points

  • Listening to each other is key for a relationship to be based on mutual trust and respect.
  • If an issue in dispute between partners is of little significance, it’s not worth pursuing.
  • Each partner needs to be honest with themselves as they accommodate the other.
  • Forgiving each other can help let go of the past.

I was asked to make a toast at my son’s recent wedding to his lovely bride. I thought about what I might say that would have a lasting impact, and thus I offered five tips to keep in mind that could help the young couple develop a strong marriage. The last four of these tips are applicable to any important relationship.

1. Happy Wife (Spouse), Happy Life.

The saying “Happy wife, happy life” might be modified in 2023 to “Happy spouse, happy house,” but that doesn’t have quite the right ring. The basic idea is that working on ensuring the partner’s happiness is a very important part of a successful relationship.

Sometimes, happiness can be maintained with small gestures, such as saying, “I love you,” cleaning up after each other, giving small gifts, or participating in a partner’s hobby. At other times, ensuring happiness may require significant compromise, such as moving to a new home, changing direction of one’s career, or changing social circles.

Each partner needs to be honest with themselves as they accommodate the other. The accommodating partner must ensure that their accommodation fits well within their important personal belief systems. People who disregard their important beliefs can become resentful, which will need to be addressed for a relationship to be successful in the long run.

2. Happy Beats Right.

In considering whether to pursue an argument, people in a relationship might think of the adage, “Would you rather be happy or right?”

If an issue is of little significance, it’s not worth pursuing, even when there is a disagreement. The partner for whom the issue is of more importance should be allowed to have their way. In this way, rather than being held up by a minor obstacle, the relationship can proceed “with the flow.”

One way to determine whether an issue is of importance is to ask yourself, “Will this issue matter a year from now?”

3. Always Communicate.

Listening to each other is key for a relationship to be based on mutual trust and respect. One way to ensure that each partner feels valued is for the listener to summarize their understanding of what the speaker just said. In this way, the speaker feels they have been heard, even if the listener disagrees.

An additional way to help validate each other is to respond with, “Yes, and….” For example, if one partner states they want to purchase an expensive new item that the other feels is not affordable, a validating response from the latter person could be, “Yes we can buy that item, and we can do so after we save money to afford it easily.”

“Yet” is another word that can be used to validate the partner. Consider, “I understand that you want to purchase this item, but I do not feel we can afford it yet.”

4. Let Go of the Past.

When difficult past circumstances involving the couple are discussed it should be for the purpose of learning from mistakes and working towards a better future, rather than as a way to punish the other partner or refusing to let go because of anxiety that a bad outcome might recur.

The recall of autobiographical memories is far from perfect. Therefore partners should not bicker regarding the truth value of either partner’s recollection. Instead, they might conclude that it is impossible to know what actually happened, as one or both of them might have erroneous memories. Thus, a couple might choose to focus on agreeing on how to deal with similar situations in the future.

Forgiving each other can sometimes be the key to letting go of the past. Remember that when you hold onto a grudge you are hurting yourself more than the other person. Also, it can be easier to forgive while keeping in mind that forgiving does not mean forgetting what happened.

5. Remember Solomon’s Ring.

My fifth tip involved a story about King Solomon, the richest and wisest man of his biblical era. On the first day of spring, King Solomon called his top servant to his court and charged him with a mission. “I would like for you to find me a ring with special powers: When rich people put it on, they become sad, but when poor people put it on, they become happy. I will give you one year to accomplish this task.”

The servant hurried out of the palace to look for such a ring. Once he left, King Solomon leaned over to his advisors and whispered, “He will never find such a ring. It does not exist. I just wanted to have a good laugh at his expense.”

The servant searched all year for such a ring but had no luck. On the day before the year was up, the servant was walking along the streets of Jerusalem when he saw a street peddler sitting on a worn, faded red carpet. The servant saw a small number of glistening rings among the various wares in front of the peddler.

The servant asked, “Do you have a ring for sale that when rich people put it on, they become sad, and when poor people put it on, they become happy?”

“Yes!” exclaimed the peddler. He picked up one of the gold rings and carefully inscribed it with small letters. He handed the ring to the servant, who gladly paid for it.

The next day, King Solomon gleefully gathered his advisors around him and called for his servant to enter the court. He noted that a year had passed and asked, “So, did you find the special ring?”

“I have,” replied the servant, and then handed the ring to King Solomon. The King slipped the ring on his finger, read the inscription, paled, and appeared crestfallen. He slipped the ring off this finger and passed it to a beggar who was in the court that day. The beggar appeared surprised and put the ring on his fourth finger. He looked at the inscription and danced for joy.

What did the inscription say?

T. T. S. P.

And what does that stand for? “This, Too, Shall Pass.”

The beggar was happy when he read the inscription because he realized he would not be destitute forever. King Solomon was sad because he realized that his good fortune would not last forever.

I turned to my son and daughter-in-law and explained that they could keep this saying in mind. When times are difficult, the couple can be strengthened by the knowledge that these times will pass. However, when times are good, such as on their wedding day, they can keep in mind that some days will not be as good. Therefore, they can be grateful to God and for each other, compassionately accept each other as they are, treasure every good moment on this happy, happy day, and be nourished by its memory for the rest of their lives.

Facebook image: SFROLOV/Shutterstock

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