Celebrate the Milestones
As of writing, I get to celebrate another Anniversary with my husband, business partner, and lifelong best friend. I can say lifelong because we’ve been together for over half my life on this planet!
I met my husband Stephen in 1996. It was during my lunch break while training at a friends gym. I’m in the middle of a set of leg raises when Stephen strolled past. We locked eyes and have been together ever since.
Since 1997 we’ve been traveling through life and exploring the world together. To date we’ve visited a total of 16 countries and 172 places worldwide.
Over the last 11 years, we lived abroad in Canada, Los Angeles and San Francisco, USA. And managed to visit and explore 117 locations throughout the USA.
Which brings me to this…
Travel the Ultimate Relationship Test
If your relationship can survive the international travel test you have a good one!
From my experience I’ve learned that it’s super important to work on your own personal development and growth first.
“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, “If you will take care of me, I will take care of you. “Now I say, I will take care of me for you if you will take care of you for me.” – Jim Rohn
If you have some fractured parts and you expect others to fix them (tip: it’s not their job) you’ll be in for a rough brutal ride.
Rather you want to do the personal work, move through and heal any emotional trauma – so that you can bring the best value to the most important person in your life.
Here are my top relationship tips, they’re simple, but they are not easy. It’s here that your personal development and growth comes into play.
My Top 15 Tips (spanning 25+ years)
I hope that these ideas serve you. When I use the generalizing word “never” I really do mean it.
Tip 1. Treat the most important person in your life as exactly that. Important.
When your partner speaks, be fully present with them, look at them, study their eyes. Put down your cell phone and be with them 100%. If you are unable to do so – tell them. Don’t attempt to multi-task their importance. Instead, follow-up or re-connect with them as soon as you can – distraction-free. Honor their presence.
Tip 2. Treat your partner as though you may never see them again (do this every day).
This changes your outlook on everything. Bad moods, arguments, disagreements seem superficial through this lens. Even during arguments. It’s so important. Don’t let them or (you leave) without telling them that you do and still love them!
Fact is: People die. And you have no control over the timing of this.
You never want to have to deal with the neurotic-guilt-grief of: “If only I had of (insert neurotic guilt)….”
Instead, adopt life through the lens of finality. It’ll make you love deeper and relish every moment including the highs and lows, the ebbs and flow with them.
Tip 3. As mentioned traveling together keeps stuff real. When all you have is each other in a foreign country (our travels around Europe) you’ll soon learn what’s valuable and important and what’s not worth stressing or arguing about.
Tip 4. Know your relationship deal breakers (and be prepared to walk away). Have aligned personal values and couple goals. Have these decided upon before marriage and more importantly before having children. It’s not romantic! And, yes you will quickly learn where you stand and to whom you stand with. But it will save you a lot of heartbreak, sunk costs and more importantly your life and your precious time on this planet.
Tip 5. Personal integrity. In situations – would you conduct yourself in the same manner as though your partner were looking over your shoulder? If not, then don’t do it. Simple.
Tip 6. Be prepared for the cycles and seasons of life. Reaping and sowing, highs, and lows. Enduring the daily grind all the while finding the fun and joy in it together. That is life baby!
Tip 7. Find a way to make each other laugh (daily).
Tip 8. Never leave it hanging in the air. If you see, hear or feel something in-the-moment that your partner is doing – address it right there and then – and vice-versa. Never wonder about it, start making up stories, or assume their actions or motivations. Instead, address the facts head-on, without accusation or drama. Leaving “things” unchecked can fester into mistrust, insecurities, or unnecessary worry.
Tip 9. No one is a mind reader. It’s unrealistic and immature to think that others can read your mind or tend to your needs if you don’t communicate exactly what you want from them.
(Straight-talk: Psst…Ladies you are responsible for your own pleasure).
Tip 10. Don’t ever try to change, fix or attempt to improve the other person. Its pure arrogance, dictatorial and narcissistic to think that we/I know whats truly best for another. Leave them be.
If however their behavior is detrimental to you speak your mind, so they know exactly where you stand, your boundaries, and the consequences you’ll enforce.
If they are violent or abusive. Leave.
Remember you teach others how you wish to be treated. Whether they choose to change is their responsibility – not yours.
Hounding or nagging the other person to change only brings up more feelings like resentment, rebellion, and shame. No one likes to be told what to do or how to be. It’s not your role to play parent or to be the “improver” of your partner (vice-versa). In my experience, its the quickest way to be a turn-off, dull intimacy, respect and trust.
Tip 11. Never issue threats or ultimatums (these are not boundaries). It only causes resentment and unhappiness and will tend to backfire on you in the long run. Remember, boundaries are about you taking action. Not issuing immature veiled threats and ultimatums or having instruction manuals about how others should be. This only leads to mental suffering.
Tip 12. During arguments, your partner is not the enemy – you are both on the same side. Take the big picture view and ask yourself in a years time will this really matter? You can be kind or you can be right. Do your best to choose kindness – it’s also a great way to work at harnessing the ego (simple but not easy).
Tip 13. Avoid sleeping on an argument. Walk away, take time out but get it sorted – go to bed as friends (hopefully lovers) but not enemies. Keep point 2 in mind. People die unexpectedly.
Tip 14. Avoid criticizing, advice giving, improving etc. People don’t deliberately set out to make mistakes or screw-up. You telling and reminding them (or others) of their failures is a great way to destroy any trust, respect, or loyalty.
The moment you think “they should” stop and point the finger back at yourself e.g. they should stop complaining, turn it around to: I should stop mentally complaining about them and using up my precious mental energy etc.
Applying the Judge your Neighbour self-awareness work of Byron Katie can be extreamly benefical here. It can lead you out of your own mental suffering about another.
Build them up. Be the wall they can lean on when they need to rest. Always have their back and protect their six e.g. your partner is taking an important call on a busy street, be situationally aware for them.
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” — Oprah Winfrey
Tip 15. Always catch the bus. Over the years I’ve seen friends achieve great heights of wealth and success. I’ve also seen the cost of their success and the types of people it can attract e.g. the fair-weather-friends, the sycophants, the remoras (suckerfish that latch on to big fish), the “party” people.
Because of their courage to swing big, to battle in the arena of life for their goals, I’ve also witnessed their soul-crushing defeats. It’s painful, there is nothing you can do, its like watching a slow-motion car crash. If the million-dollar homes, cars, and lifestyle go, you still want to be the person that will catch the bus with them and think nothing of it.
The same applies to the most important person in your life. You want them to know that no matter what happens – you’ll still ride the bus with them. You’ll still eat canned sardines if it helps to save a little money.
No one is immune to those soul-sucky, stormy moments of life. They will come and as a couple, you better have a “Deal with it” plan in place.
Relationships, much like a beautiful, flourishing, hardy, garden requires work and maintenance. They need to be protected, and nurtured with constant weeding, pruning and pest control. Occasionally they might require a burn-off to enable new growth.
I hope these tips offer you some value in some way.
To happy days and long life adventures!