The Key to a Successful Relationship
As you might have read in my original post in this category, my husband James and I have been together for 8 years, and married for 1. We met when we were 17 years old, just about to both turn 18. In our 7 years of dating, we had only broken up once and that lasted a day. I titled this post “The Key to a Successful Relationship” for a couple of reasons. I chose “key” instead of “secret” because this is no secret. There is no magical way of going about this that only a select group of people know about. I also chose “successful” instead of “perfect” because, well, I think we all know the “perfect” relationship (whatever that means) doesn’t exist.
James is the only one I’ve ever had a relationship with. He was my first and only boyfriend. Early on, to some of my friends and even my own mother, for this reason, staying with him was not a good decision. I was urged to keep my options open, maybe explore different things and meet other people. While I agreed with their reasons for telling me this which were completely out of love, I did not see why I should leave the relationship for this reason alone. Everything was going rather well, and I didn’t want to up and quit for no real, valid reason. Sure, we had our arguments and we both had our moments of doubt, but I have always believed in giving something an honest try – giving something or someone a true chance. I’ve always believed in the best in people – many times to my disappointment, but I’m happy to say that this relationship was not one of those instances. Instead, I kept at it, and so did he. So what do we owe it all to?
We often hear “saying I love you every day” or “saying thank you every day” as being the keys to many a successful relationship. I absolutely agree with both of these, but I think that at the heart of both of these sentiments as well as those similar to them, lies humility.
Humility can be defined as “the state of being humble” with a quick Google search. If you’re human, being humble is probably one of the biggest struggles in every day life. We are not designed to be humble. It takes a lot of self-control to be humble – at least for me it does. For me, to be humble, I need to honestly check myself. Backing down and putting myself in someone else’s shoes, not holding myself up as smarter or better than someone else, and trying not to make anyone else feel small, are all components of being humble for me.
Humility enables us to do all the things that are so vital to keeping a relationship healthy:
- Apologize – humility lets you know when you are just not in the right. Give it up and say sorry. It’s a great feeling.
- Appreciate – humility tells you that you can only do so much alone and that this person you’re with is valuable and can do things you might not be able to. Recognize your partner’s worth and say thank you whenever possible, even for the mundane, expected, every-day things. It’s amazing how this can make both of you feel.
- Understand – humility tells you that you don’t exist alone on a pedestal in this world and that you’ll need to learn to understand each other, and yield to each other. Which leads to the next point…
- Pick your battles – humility teaches you that being in love is more important than being right. Is bringing up your partner’s fault worth it? You end up hurting them, and was it really worth feeling on top? Do you feel better now? I tend to not think so. Just let it go – get over it – dismiss it from your mind.
- Yes, say “I love you” as much as possible – humility teaches you that you need to be soft sometimes, express your love on the regular. You both might “already know,” but actually making the effort to say it out loud goes a long way. James and I say it at the end of every phone conversation, every night before bed via text if we’re apart, whenever we part ways, and sometimes just randomly. It makes all the difference. Swallow your pride – embrace the mushiness – say “I love you” while you still can.
I take all of these and try to apply them to my relationship as often as needed. It isn’t always easy – actually, it’s never easy, but it does get a little easier with time if we work on it. I am so thankful for James, his willingness to be humble which encourages the same in me, and of course to God, for teaching us both to have humility and to love each other as best as we can – for keeping us in check – because Lord knows we all need it on the regular!
I’d like to end this post with an ancient, wise adage which goes,
“No grumble, be humble.”