Six ways to make your relationship work (and why just being in love isn’t enough)

Whether you’ve recently found a partner you are ready to commit to, or you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it is important to recognise that just having someone you’re committed to isn’t enough on its own. You need to find the right recipe to make your relationship work.

Finding someone you click with can feel like such a milestone in itself that we feel as though the work has already been done, when really it’s just the start. A relationship doesn’t need to be hard work, but keeping a few rules in check can really help keep things on track.

1. Let your partner know what you want

A good relationship shouldn’t be a guessing game. When men and women are afraid to state their needs in a relationship, disappointment and resentment can develop. Sometimes it can be even more confusing when you haven’t thought about your expectations and what makes you happy. It isn’t fair to be disappointed and angry if your partner hasn’t met needs that you haven’t stated. Closeness can only come from honesty.

2. Manage your differences and be a team

You and your partner are individuals who can bring different perspectives to the relationship. Combining your differences in a positive way is what makes you a strong team, so that’s how you should view yourselves.

Knowing how to manage differences is key to any successful relationship. Some negative feelings in a relationship are unavoidable, as you are two different people, but it’s lack of communication that sinks relationships, not disagreements. Arguments can be a healthy part of any relationship as long as you both understand how to communicate and work issues out calmly.

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3. Deal with problems as they arise

Failing to acknowledge and deal with an issue when it happens can lead to hurt feelings and building resentment, which is where most relationships go wrong. Never go to sleep angry; talk things through; say sorry to one another and move on.

Being able to say sorry is crucial. The willingness to make up after an argument is central to every happy partnership.

On the flip side, forgiveness is just as important. If your partner apologises, don’t reject it. Accept it, put the fight behind you and try not to fall into the habit of bringing issues up again in future disagreements. Recognise that some times will be better than others and that working together through the hard times will make your relationship stronger.

4. Listen – properly. It leads to trust

Often in relationships, having someone to listen is all we really need to solve problems, worries and fears. Try to really listen to your partner’s concerns or complaints without judging them, and they will feel happy to confide in you, which is the root of real trust. Try to look at things from your partner’s perspective as well as your own. Empathy is essential for a long lasting and solid relationship.

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5. Maintain closeness

Closeness doesn’t happen by itself and, in its absence, people drift apart and can be susceptible to affairs. A good relationship is a lifelong process maintained through regular attention, communication, trust and respect. Talk about your dreams regularly to make sure you’re both on the same path. The more passions you share, the richer your relationship will be. Stay open to spontaneity.

6. Be independent

Some dependency is obviously a good thing, but expecting a partner to fulfill all your needs is likely to lead to unhappiness for both of you. Bringing in new interests from outside can really enrich your relationship while also helping you maintain your self esteem and confidence.

Considering the points above, and generally being more mindful of your relationship, is a great way to assess and realign your partnership. Being more self-aware gives us the opportunity to make sense of a bad relationship rather than just running from it. By exploring what went wrong you can make sure you are less likely to create the same problems with your next partner.

Love isn’t a static state that you’re either in or out of; it’s a feeling that ebbs and flows depending on how you treat each other. By learning new ways to interact, feelings can come flowing back, often more powerful than before.

Susie Ambrose is the CEO and founder of exclusive matchmaking company Seventy Thirty