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1,500 People Share the Secrets of Happy Relationships

Mark Manson, a popular blogger and writer, carried out a fascinating experiment. He asked 1,500 people in love to share the secret of strong and healthy relationships. What he found astounded him.

We at Bright Side would like to share with you an abridged version of the greatest relationship guide ever, based on Mark’s research.

Romeo and Juliet isn’t a love story. It’s a three-day affair between a 13-year-old girl and a 17-year-old guy that got 6 people killed.

Real love is about choice and devotion, whatever the immediate circumstances. Romance is temporary, but that’s what many confuse for love today. When the passion’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Many start relationships to compensate for something they lack or hate in themselves. That’s a dead end. Your love becomes provisional, and you stay together until you have something to offer each other.

Mark asked people who’d been married before what they’d done wrong. The most frequent answer by far was I was with him/her for the wrong reasons.

For example:

  • Pressure from family or friends.
  • Feeling like you’re a loser being alone and agreeing to be with the first person to come along.
  • Relationships that look good in photos but not in reality.
  • Being young and naive and full of a love that can conquer everything.
  • Wishing to improve yourself through another.

Sacrifice in relationships is a common theme. You try to keep your relationship happy by constantly sacrificing yourself to your partner. However, to make it really healthy and happy you need two healthy and happy personalities. And this is the key word here. That means two people who retain their individuality at all times.

Divorcees who’d lived with their partners for 10-15 years mostly said communication was the key to success. However, couples who’ve been together for decades always spoke of respect.

Conflicts are inevitable, and common respect and faith are the only things that can save your relationship.

Moreover, you should respect yourself: lack of it will make you feel unworthy of love, which won’t do your relationship any good.

Here are examples of correct behavior given by many happy couples:

  • Never speak badly about your partner in front of anyone. If you have troubles, discuss them.
  • Respect your partner’s right to have their own interests and ambitions.
  • Respect the right of the vote. You’re a team, and you should work everything out together.
  • No secrets. If you’re honestly together, then be honest through and through.

Couples who’ve been together for more than 20 years often notice how much a person changes with time. You should be ready to accept those changes. It’s not about tastes or something trivial: it’s about radical life alterations. The most frequent ones married couples fought through and won were change of religious views, moving to another country, a death in the family, care about family members, change of political views, and even change of sexual orientation.

People Mark interviewed spoke a lot about separate bank accounts, friends, hobbies, vacations... Some even advised against sleeping in the same room.

The more we want to be loved, the more we tend to control the life of our partner. However, this inability to give them space to be themselves is a delicate kind of disrespect.

When people talk about the significance of "good communication" they mean being ready for difficult talks. Here are a couple of good recommendations:

  • Do not become personal.
  • Don’t recall your previous fights during the current one: this will only exacerbate things.
  • If it’s becoming too emotional, give yourself a break: leave for a while, and come back when you’re calmer.
  • Remember that it’s not so important to be right as it is for both of you to feel heard and respected. It is not a victory when your partner is hurt and feels unloved.

If there’s something troubling you in your relationship, be ready to talk about it. This may hurt, but it builds a kind of intimacy you won’t be able to achieve otherwise.

Learn to discern when your partner’s hiding something from your own paranoia, and vice versa. It’s not easy, and you’ll probably have to confront each other to get to the root of the problem. However, it often happens that one thinks everything’s okay while the other feels there’s a whole lot of trouble.

Don’t forget about small things. Ever. Say "I love you," hold hands, help each other around the house. It’s simple.

It all becomes exceedingly important when the kids appear. Hundreds of people said one and the same thing: make your marriage a priority. Participants almost pleaded to have regular visits to restaurants, plan weekends together, and just have quality time with each other.

When two personalities live together, they’ll definitely have differences and conflicts. Don’t forget that you shouldn’t try to change your partner. Keep your differences, and learn to love and forgive.

Your ideal partner is not the one who doesn’t cause trouble but the one who causes trouble you enjoy solving.

We all have our perfect vision of a good relationship: partners have their own functions which they carry out and balance between time together and time for self.

In real life, it’s altogether different and intense. You may feel you’re talking to a wall. And that’s because people aren’t perfect.

Dividing your responsibilities is good for everyone. Find out what you do best (and worst), and base your deal on your findings.

A medical nurse wrote to Mark once after talking with an 80-year-old man about his life-long relationship with a single woman. This is what he said:

"Relationships are like waves: all ups and downs, and never a quiet moment. It’s important to understand these waves only rarely have anything to do with the quality of the relationship. People lose jobs, family members die, couples move house, change careers, earn and lose lots of money. None of these waves are forever, and, in the end, you’ll always stay together."

Afterword from Mark and his reader Margo

"You can work through anything as long as you’re not destroying each other. Never shame or mock each other or that which makes your partner happy. Write down why you fell in love, and read it every year on your anniversary (or more often). Write love letters to each other.

When you have kids, there’s this frenzy when they become the only reason for life. Never forget the love that gave them birth. It’ll teach your children love. Your spouse is always your number one. You’ll each grow, so be the one to encourage this growth. Don’t depend on the other to maintain the relationship.

Love your partner the way they are, even when you’re upset. Trust each other. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Be honest. Take pride in each other. Be open to change, and accept the new. Print this out, and read it every day."

Based on materials from markmanson.net