10 rules of a (working) longterm relationship
First things first: I am not a fan of relationship advice. At all. I hate it when people judge other relationships, think they know you better than you know yourself or feel the need to give their (unwanted) two cents. Why? Because every relationship is unique, different and hard to look-into, let alone understand from an outside perspective.
This personal view on all things love originated somewhere close to twelve years ago, when Mike and I first started dating. I was 17 at the time and had only lived in Austria for 1.5 years. Once the news about “us” was out, the most random people would tell me stories about him as if they had received some kind of calling from the love gods above to interfere. Of course, not the typ of stories that would bring people closer together, but rather keep them apart…
Fast forward 12 years and we are coming up on another excuse to splurge on a romantic get-away or fancy multi-course dinner (aka our anniversary). In other words: We’re still standing! Despite what others had to say or knew better back then. I believe that things, which are meant to be, will always be. Things that are not meant to be, might be incredible for a while before they turn into something not so great. Either way, there is nothing wrong with taking the ride and enjoying it while it lasts. No matter if that is just for one amazing summer or a lifetime.
For me personally, the past 12 years have felt like an incredible summer romance that will last a lifetime. And while I live and leave my relationship outside of social media, I have been wanting to write this post for a long time because it is a question I have asked myself over and over again: What are the rules of working longterm relationships? Are there even rules to begin with?
We all play the game of love in different ways, hence there are different rules for everyone. For me, however, I have seen a few guidelines surface throughout the years. Things that I try to keep in mind when things are not as rose-tinted, circumstance that have made it work for us and some of my personal learnings or growth.
Like I said, this is not relationship advice. This is simply what makes it work for us.
10 rules of longterm relationships
- be realistic: Never settle for less, but don’t expect your (love) life to be a fairytale. No matter how perfect other relationships seem, there is no such thing as perfect. Not in this life at least. Don’t start running the second the going gets rough.
- grow together by growing apart: Or grow apart in order to grow together? Either way, leave the other person space to grow and to chase their own dreams. By doing so, you grow together. Mike and I met at a young age during high school with so much ahead of us. His mandatory military, college, moving out from home, internships and first jobs. Very early on, we decided together that we would never not take up an opportunity to grow as an individual because of the other person. We spent summers apart, working on our CVs and traveling with our friends.
- fight, scream and yell: Not on a daily basis, of course, but in my opinion a healthy culture of conflict or debate is one of the best things about a trusted relationship. Sometimes we slam doors (I do more than he does). We scream and yell. And we never shy away from an honest (but respectful) opinion, even if it is hard to say out loud. This is something that I have also been taught by my parents at home and the older I get, the more thankful I am to my parents for teaching us kids to have an opinion, to not be afraid to speak it and to practice a healthy way of discussion. Just because it is love doesn’t mean you always have to be on the same page.
- don’t work together: This is a highly personal opinion and I know many (!) amazing examples of the opposite. My grandparents being one of them. Some couples can spend all day in the same office, other’s can’t. For us, working together was never an option and I love that!
- love letters: Or little acts of kindness. Just because the other person knows you love them, does not mean you don’t need to say (or show) it sometimes. That’s what keeps the butterflies alive after 10 years. Think hidden notes in suitcases, surprise concert tickets to a band you listed to together as teenagers, a home-cooked meal with fancy wine on a Tuesday or photobooth fun on a trip. Which brings me to the next article…
- travel together: “live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Emerson
- commitment: [the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.] go out, have fun with your friends, dance with other boys in a nonchalant way but always remember that there is someone who loves you very much and you committed to this person when you had thousands to choose from!
- be the rock: Don’t question everything, don’t take everything personal. One of my biggest learnings over the past decade was the fact that the other person is allowed to be in a bad mood, even if you are not the reason for said mood. When things are shitty at work, family troubles arise or your partner is in a bad mood (just because), accept it as what it is. Don’t try to justify things, don’t try to find the reason in your doings and don’t judge. Everyone is allowed a bad day, week or even month every once in a while without it having anything to do with their partner. We have gone through so many ups and downs over the past few years without either of us to blame. Sometimes life just gets in the way and you need a rock to come home to.
- things that don’t matter, don’t matter: I recently listened to a podcast with Sarah Jessica Parker (the goop!) and literally took notes. Every thing she said about love spoke to me. She has been married for many, many years and said that one of the things that she came to realize over the years was the fact that “things that don’t matter really don’t matter” (and are not worth the fight or discussion). I couldn’t agree more.
- the future: a lot of people bring up marriage to us. To me, there has never been a doubt in my mind that we will spend the rest of our lives together. It is not something I have necessarily thought about, but when I think about the future (= the bigger picture), I always see my future with him. As does he with me. We share our health insurance, we have a god child together and we have lived under the same roof for 10 years now. Always remember: love (or marriage) comes in all shapes and ways. The future together is the bigger picture – and that certainly does not require a ring on your finger!