With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share my thoughts on some key features of strong romantic relationships that I’ve noticed over the years.
We often hear about the importance of communication, trust, honesty, and respect in a relationship, all 100% crucial. However, there are three additional values, that I don’t see discussed as often, but that I think make up extremely important pillars of a strong partnership. This is based on my own relationship but also advice I’ve gotten from people who’ve been partnered for decades and who really have a lot of wisdom to share.
The first pillar is privacy. Although I’m very public about my life on social media, I believe that the intimacies of a relationship deserve some privacy. For me this means I’m careful about what I share about my marriage and discerning about whom I share it with. Depending on the situation I might seek counsel from a small number of people, but for the most part privacy is fundamental to making sure we both feel comfortable in our relationship. This means the two of us spend more time problem-solving with each other rather than bringing others into our space. In other words, we spend more time talking to each other, rather than about each other.
The second pillar is commitment. All couples have conflict. All couples face challenges. Some are expected (e.g. disagreement over parenting styles) and some can be quite unexpected (e.g. infidelity). The advice I’ve gotten from experienced couples always boils down to this: are you committed to *trying* to make it work? How you approach a challenge, big or small, is really what defines your relationship. Sometimes you can work hard and overcome the challenge. Sometimes, you try and you can’t salvage what you had. And that’s okay. It’s okay to end a relationship that is no longer working.
The third pillar is separation. It’s easy for your relationship to become all-consuming, trust me I’ve been there! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the importance of keeping our individual identities separate. My husband and I have cultivated different hobbies, different friends, and different interests. It’s important not to lose yourself in your relationship. I think this is especially important advice for young women who sometimes feel like they need to make themselves smaller to accommodate their partner’s needs (a function of the patriarchy ugh). Focusing on yourself and your own needs should continue even if you’re partnered up. You’re separate people who are building a life together, you can do that without blurring into the same person.
So, there you have it! Three values that I think are fundamental to a strong romantic partnership! If you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments!
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