12 MUSTS for a Successful Long-Term Intimate Relationship

Two people must embrace the fact that your lives will change, i.e. your stage of life, body, pressures/stresses, etc. Don’t be fooled to believe that your relationship will always be like your dating years.

Two people must be willing to compromise. Rigidity and entitlement breed discontent and hostility. Cultivate the attitude that solution-building is better than being “right.”

Two people must structure their lives for fun and playfulness. This may include humor and laughter, an attitude of lightness, touch, adventure, etc.

Two people must cultivate a deep respect and language that expresses the other to be innately and uniquely different than his/her self. This encouraging, non-critical, non-damaging language, risks being “seen” by the other, as well as “seeing” the other. Consequently,

Two people must learn to listen to the needs of the other, and embrace the fact that the other’s perspective will probably be different, yet legitimate.

Along with #3, two people must cultivate an intention to be erotic and affectionate. This may or may not include sex as a form of affection. It does, however, include whatever forms of touch that convey a sense of tenderness and desire. Although different from “having sex,” it includes expressions of sexual discovery and exploration, varied and “un-routined” sexual playfulness, and shared sexual surprises and mysteries.

Two people must develop a trust and emotional safety within the relationship. Be mindful to create an atmosphere whereby you can easily be trusted by the other. In part, this will include practicing sexual boundaries and agreements with others, and verbal and physical boundaries during arguments.

Two people must keep a sense of “Relational Autonomy,” i.e. balancing your individual needs with your relational needs. Always remember that you are an individual first, and a partner second. Balance giving and receiving throughout your relationship.

Two people must be clear and agreeable as how they will discipline and nurture their children (preferably before an incident occurs). We are often overly vulnerable and protective when it comes to the guidance of our children. Our internal triggers get in the way of proper parenting. Don’t let your decision-making get in the way of your loving.

Two people must make a commitment to put the needs of the relationship first, i.e. not mine, not hers. Remember to fight for the relationship. This will mean to lay aside your pride and/or opinion when you have a disconnect, and move into finding ways to build up the relationship itself.

Two people must commit to reaching out for help when needed. When your threshold to “disconnect” has been reached (and it will at times), you must be willing to pursue involvement from others (albeit professional or peers).

Men: Learn how to LOVE and CHERISH your woman! Women: Learn how to RESPECT and HONOR your man! These are the #1 needs from each.