Like many of you, I grew up in a dysfunctional home. Just how dysfunctional was it? There was a general sense of disappointment, anger, and disrespect in my family. I didn’t see much love and affection between my parents. When I was 16, I begged my mother to get divorced. I couldn’t understand why my parents would stay together if they were so unhappy.
They did eventually get divorced, but it wasn’t for another 12 years. I was walking down the aisle as they were going through the “war of the roses”. Fun! Needless to say, my parents’ unhappy marriage took its toll on me and my siblings. I ended up divorced after 23 years of marriage. After my divorce, I vowed to learn how to create a lasting loving relationship. I wanted to know the secrets of happy couples. What were they doing that led to relationship success?
As a dating coach, my passion is to help women over 40 make better choices in choosing a romantic partner before they get married or enter a long-term relationship. That’s the primary focus of my work. Balancing your heart and head in choosing the right partner is the first big step. But what happens once you’ve found him? The work you do after you’re in a relationship is crucial to maintaining a lasting loving relationship.
Steps for Building a Love that Lasts
1. Be a spectacular listener. Seek to understand before being understood, as Stephen Covey so eloquently stated in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s much easier to talk than it is to listen. When you’re with your date or your partner, try and listen without an agenda. Learn to listen deeply, without adding any judgment or advice. Just be present with them. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give.
2. Regularly show appreciation. One of the things I loved about my ex-husband was that he didn’t take me for granted. He showed his appreciation and gratitude for my cooking, parenting, and all the little acts of kindness I did for my family. That never got old for me. It also encouraged me to appreciate him. So show your partner appreciation on a regular basis, especially when you’re making a request. Appreciation before and after a request will go a long way towards having him respect and honor what you need from him.
3. Be kind in your actions and words. One of the worst offenders in marriages and relationships is a lack of respect. Small acts and words of kindness and consideration breed more love. Don’t underestimate how important this is. Notice the good. Do good. It’s contagious.
4. Follow through on your commitments to one another. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This is how trust continues to build in a relationship. I’m a stickler for follow-through and accountability. Figure out a way to stay accountable to each other, even if it doesn’t come easily to you. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Check in with yourself every time you commit to something. Make sure it’s something you can and will do before saying “yes”.
5. Don’t blame. It’s easy to blame your partner when you have a disagreement. People often blame outside circumstances for just about anything. To succeed in your relationship, it’s important to take responsibility for your share in any argument. You can’t control what your partner says or does, but you can control how you respond. Whenever you have an argument, take a breath and pause before reacting. Look within to see what part you may have played. Owning up to your share creates deeper connection.
6. Celebrate successes. People often forget to acknowledge one another when things go well. It’s easier to focus on what goes wrong than what goes right in a relationship. Remember to be each other’s best advocates, rejoicing in all the good things that happen. Focus on the positives to build more positivity into the relationship. That’s foundational to lasting love.
I’ll be sharing tips 7-12 in next Thursday’s post. Which did you find most helpful? Which are the most challenging for you? Any tips to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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