The secret to a happy and successful relationship is, in fact, no secret. A little effort from both parties is required to make things work, but it shouldn't be a constant struggle. The beginning of any relationship almost always seems easy because there aren't many problems to resolve just yet, and all the excitement is distracting. But just because that simmers down doesn't mean things have to start falling apart. Practice the following tips right from the start of your partnership, or pick these up ASAP if you've been long-term. The six keys ahead are sure to make a difference for any couple — see what will help you two last.
1. Always be honest.
In a healthy relationship, you should be able to speak your mind freely without worrying about what your partner might think. Bubble up anything that's bothering either of you and have an open conversation about it. Tackling these issues head on without judgment can only result in good. The happiest of couples are happy because they talk to each other and express exactly how they feel. There's no beating around the bush and therefore, no passive aggression that builds up into a fight later on.
2. Don't forget about intimacy.
The definition of intimacy varies by couple. This can mean anything from cuddling regularly to having sex, but there's no "x" amount that determines what's enough or what's too little. It doesn't matter if you're physical with each other once a week or three times a day — it should be as often as you want and need to have an emotionally fulfilling relationship. Intimacy is a significant chunk of a relationship, however, so show as much affection as possible to remind each other of your love. Even if your partner doesn't need the validation, that security is reassuring and prevents doubt in times of difficulty.
3. Have time apart.
It's healthy to have lives separate from the one you have together. Even if you're crazy about one another and don't want to leave their side, setting some time apart to be with friends or to be alone is key. This allows you to miss each other and have a well-rounded relationship. And if things get rocky down the line, you both have support systems to help you get through it.
4. Compliment and say "I love you" often.
Just because you've been together for a long time, it doesn't mean that these things should go unsaid. Don't just assume your SO knows how you're feeling. Even if they do, it's always nice to hear how great you think they look that day. "I love you"s can never get old, either. They solidify the relationship by reminding one another why you two are together.
5. Go on dates.
It's inevitable for a couple to get comfortable after being together for some time, and there's nothing wrong with that! But it's still important to keep things fun in between and set rituals you cherish. Going on spontaneous weeknight dinners or planning movie dates prevent the relationship from falling into a rut. Doing this also reminds you of your earlier days when you both started dating. Handle the relationship as if you both just started seeing each other and it will feel like it.
6. Do things for each other.
This can be in terms of favors and/or surprises. Show your SO you're thinking of them by doing something sweet, even if that's just picking up their dry cleaning for them without being asked. It's not required for your partner to reciprocate, but chances are that they'll do something nice for you in return, creating a cycle of thoughtfulness. Also, don't be afraid to ask for favors and don't complain when you're asked to do any. A partnership is a two-way street!