I have learned alot about relationships in my life. While I was married for only 10 years, and am only 30...I feel I have a pretty good idea of what to do and what not to do - at least based from the perspective I have had.
Have recently been listening to a few friends and their relationship issues and fight my urge to reply or say anything, as I always seem to speak before I think. But I did have some thoughts I wanted to jot down....
First, I think communication is essential in a signif other. You cannot, absolutely cannot, begin to have an open, honest relationship with anyone else unless you are talking about things. And that goes for being open to having someone tell you things as well. Communication is also listening to another's ideals and perspectives. Sure, they may not go along with yours, but so what??? Do you immediately shut them up with harsh words because "you don't want to hear it", or do you embrace the fact that THEY are an individual, and are independent enough and ADULT enough to have their own thoughts and opinions?
I spent alot of my marriage being "shut down". As in, if the ex said something, and I thought something else, I was immediately put down for it, and was told I was wrong. After you get shut down enough, you begin to stop offering up your opinions, because you know they aren't valued, respected, or appreciated. Then after awhile, you begin to even forget that at one time you HAD opinions and thoughts. Like the old saying goes, you are told something enough times, pretty soon you start to believe it.
Don't shut each other down. Listen to each other's crazy ideas. Listen and don't judge each other. YOU ARE ON THE SAME SIDE for cryin out loud! Be accepting that your mate will have differing opinions than you. The only person that feels exactly the way you do about everything is YOU, and that's pretty lonely.
Secondly, for a relationship to work, you MUST put that persons needs, wants, and desires before your own. Period. This act of 'self-involvement' and 'self-absorption'....is non-existent. YES, we all have needs. Yes, we all have desires. Yes, we all have wants. But the right person for you will have a desire to fulfill all of those and not just speak it - they will actively pursue it. Loving another means denying yourself. You place your faith and hope into this other person. Your trust. That they will fulfill ALL of your needs and wants. And they do the same for you. Sadly, many people are scared. (I was one of these at one time) Many people are scared because all they have known is the storms of life, and the hardships, and they KNOW the other shoe always drops. (It did in my house - always) Some walk around like the Care Bear, Grumpy Bear, with that cloud of gloom reigning over them. They are scared to put any faith in another person, because they anticipate failure, that the bubble will burst again, and they will be hurt...again.
In putting anothers needs and wants before your own, you must realize...you are on the same side. You aren't supposed to be against this person, or fighting this battle on your own. Life is tough, and this world we live in SUCKS alot of the time. (For all my atheist friends, just go with me here for a second...lol) God INTENDED us to have a "helper" - a companion, to fight this life battle together. Not to be alone. Not someone to be an enemy. BUT someone who had our best interests at heart and be accepting of WHO we are.
Thirdly, accept each other. Don't complain about what you permit. If your signif other spends all of their time in front of the tv while you are together dating, don't anticipate that anything is going to change. It won't. If they were that way then, and you were fine with it, and never brought it up as an issue, then you are giving non-verbal acceptance. If its an issue after the marriage, tough.
Accepting doesn't mean you agree with it. For instance, I don't agree with the fact that eating oreos make me fat - that's just not right. But I accept that is the way it is, and I cannot change that. What I CAN do, is find solutions to work together with my body AND the oreos so I can get what I want, but my body is happy too. Accepting means working with your signif other in a loving, caring way to come to common ground. Because you have chosen to be with each other. Accepting doesn't mean you like it. It DOES mean you will work together at it.
But that leads us to fourthly...
Fourthly, get over the small shit. Keep perspective. We are all going to die. All of us. Whining over trivial things consistently ONLY makes you look like an unhappy asshead. Yes, you might be. You may be a genuinely unhappy person, and if so, that's a shame. It is a shame that in your life, you cannot find a glimmer of SOMETHING (including your signif other!!!!) to make you happy. If you are that unhappy and you even have someone by your side, dear God, I would kiss their feet and thank them over and over for the fact they put up with your sourpuss ass!
In the grand scheme of things, there is SOOOO much we whine and complain over, that really doesn't matter. Get over it and yourself. Look outside of yourself and ask, "how is this making the love of my life feel?" Or anyone else for that matter!!!
I "get" that we need to vent, and we need to whine. But do it and be DONE with it. Life is way too short to dwell on bullshit. Enjoy the rest of the life you have. It IS all you have got.
A few more to summarize....forgive each other for being human. We all will fuck up. We will get hurt and will hurt each other. Whether it is because we came home and talked about ourselves all evening and neglected to ask the other how their day was, or whether we burnt the peas....we will fuck up. Forgive each other for being human. Would you rather have that person in your life, or the peas?????
And don't take each other for granted. Don't assume they will be there tomorrow. Life each day for itself. It IS all you have. Yesterday is gone and we aren't promised tomorrow. Show too much affection, tell them you love them too many times, kiss over and over and over. Have too much sex instead of too much arguing...take the time to have lunch together and laugh with each other, sit on a bench on Mass Ave and people watch, together. Make the most of your time together. Don't take each other for granted. Life is too short to lose someone who "gets" you - and it is so important to be "gotten".
Deny your self, your selfishness, your needs, your wants, and put the other person's before yours. And don't take them for granted.