I have no idea how to make a relationship works for years and years. Nowadays I notice whenever marriages ends after about twenty years – let me say it again, twenty years. That’s a long time – an eternity.
That’s a person that you know inside and out – at least for many years and is the most intimate person in your life. You have spend many hours together, every day, for years. Gone on vacations, visited families, have joint friends. You have been bored together, probably raised a couple of kids and endured the strain kids are. Survived countless arguments, sickness and each others less appetizing qualities. You have navigated each others needs, the kids needs and problems, may be even fallen in love with somebody else once or twice and/or somehow endured cheating from one or both sides.
I can only assume that that the marriage slowly over time breaks down unless it suddenly ends with some event triggering it like cheating. I’m more interested in the part where the marriage degrade over time. We are talking about a person that you decide you don’t want in your life anymore, after about twenty years. Slowly you become strangers even though there are twenty years of memories and cherished times together.
I’m trying to convey a feeling here – of how it is to have such a person in your life for so long, and then it ends. I’m not able to wrap my head around it, but at the same time I understand it a little bit. I know how it is when a relationship over time becomes friendship and nothing more. Then one want to keep having that person in ones life, just not as a life partner. But twenty years is a long time, and there has to have been something more there.
There are countless articles about how to make a relationship work, but usually they are superficial and only touch the surface. When I found the found the article Who Are The “Keepers?” The Behaviors of Successful Long-Term Partners, I knew that finally the answer was there. The author, Randi Gunther, focuses on 15 traits these people have.
Let’s not kid our selves, relationship is hard – and easy at the same time. We have to work on ourselves and with the other partner all the time. I asked my boyfriend what he thought would break a relationship over time. His answer was all the compromises one had to make every day and you do it even without thinking. My answer was that the romance/magic would disappear over time, one stopped going out on dates and do something special with your partner even if it is going out for coffee and reading newspapers together. You stopped working on the relationship itself and improve it.
Most likely both are right and are aspects of the truth. The great thing about this article is that most likely the traits listed helps one in dealing with the compromises without one partner getting the brunt over a long time period. The people have qualities that let them keep the magic in the relationships they have. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to work on it and that it comes effortlessly. It just means that they deal with whatever comes up. But if only one part of the relationship are a keeper, then there’s a problem.
A keeper will know when it’s time to leave. Anybody who has watched some episodes of Dr. Phil will have noticed one thing. He always say that you aren’t ready to leave a relationship if you have any unresolved feelings.
You can read more about what traits it is in the article, but here they are:
Trait One – Keepers are self-accountable
Trait Two – Keepers can hold on to their own personal rhythms under stress
Trait Three – Keepers don’t patronize. They find a way to stay interested or they graciously bow out
Trait Four – Keepers see humor as a sacred part of relationships
Trait Five – Keepers know how to stay even
Trait Six – Keepers do not allow guilt to influence their decisions
Trait Seven – Keepers store the “good times”
Trait Eight – Keepers are authentic
Trait Nine – Keepers understand and accept their value in the marketplace
Trait Ten – Keepers look for the value in others
Trait Eleven – Keepers avoid useless energy drains
Trait Twelve – Keepers Know how to Self-Soothe
Trait Thirteen – Keepers seek continuous transformation
Trait Fourteen – Keepers take good care of themselves
Trait Fifteen – Keepers treasure the present moment
When I read the different qualities I know I’m a keeper, but I still have a lot to work on. I need to take better care of myself, learn to treasure the present moment better. I’m getting better and better at avoiding useless energy drains but I still need work in that area. I’m terrible at storing the good times – I think. But all in all, I know I’m on the right path. I just have to see if my boyfriend agree 😉