I've been married to my husband for approximately ten and a half years. We met in Europe while in the military together and have moved all over the United States together. We have been best friends throughout our entire time together. About a year before I met my husband, I remember clearly thinking that I had never met a couple who had a relationship I admired. I had dated guys and wasn't really impressed with how they treated me. Looking back, I always immediately knew that they weren't right for me, yet I persisted in trying to make things work because the examples I had seen in my life showed me that you had to struggle in a relationship to make it work.
One day I was flying to Europe to my first military assignment and an elderly woman sat next to me. She was very kind and I enjoyed talking to her during our flight. She would turn around every now and then, but I couldn't see who she was looking at because I was seated next to the window. At the end of the flight when everyone was getting off the plane, I noticed an elderly man walk up behind her and pinch her butt. She immediately turned around and laughed and said, "Oh, you!" and hit his arm softly. She introduced me to the guy, who turned out to be her husband, and I was genuinely happy to be around them because they were truly happy to be together. I was like their joy was contagious, and it was the first time I realized that a relationship could be playful, kind, and loving for a long time. I had always thought that a relationship is good at first, but eventually turns out badly for whatever reason. It was the first time I remember thinking, "I want that kind of relationship and I will not date anyone until I find that for myself."
After leaving the plane and getting settled at my first military base, I met a guy I worked with who taught me how to drive a stick shift. He told me how he met his wife while he helped me learn to drive and I was struck by his story. He told me that he met his wife a few years back and didn't like her at first. He said that after he had known her for a couple of years, he had gotten severely injured in an accident and she had nursed him back to health. He told me that he knew after a couple of weeks that he had fallen in love with her and loved her deeply. After he was better, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. They got married fairly soon after he had healed and he said he was so glad he had married his best friend.
I saw them together for the first time at a military holiday event, and could immediately tell they cared a lot about each other. They talked to each other, looked at each other constantly, and laughed like they were best friends.
Since I had met two couples in a relatively short amount of time who had such great relationships, I knew that I could find someone too, but it wouldn't be easy. I told myself I wouldn't settle for a bad relationship ever again, even if I didn't meet someone until I was 90, I would wait.
It turns out I didn't have to wait too long because I met my husband at a two-week training course a few months later. The first thing that struck me about talking to my husband was that he was extremely easy to talk to. From the moment I met him, it was like I had known him for a very long time. If I couldn't be with him, I would be best friends with him anyway because we are so much alike and get along so well. This brings me to the tips I have for how to have a good relationship.
Tips on How to Have a Good Relationship
Be With Someone You Would Be Friends With Outside of a Relationship
Would hang out with your significant other if you weren't together? Friendship brings another level to your relationship.
You should love your significant other, but you should also like them too. Friendship within a romantic relationship brings skills into the relationship that can only benefit you as a couple; a lot of couples I've seen in relationships that don't work treat their friends very differently than they treat their significant other.
I wanted someone I could hang out with and talk to, without feeling like I had to impress them, which is what a true friend is. I figured if I could have both, I'd have a great relationship. Look for someone you would call a friend because a lot of relationship problems can be fixed if you have great communication skills, empathy, kindness, and loyalty.
Your Loyalty to Your Significant Other Should Be Apparent
By this I mean, never say anything to anyone else you haven't discussed with your significant other first and have resolved. I had a friend who was married to a guy who she would fight will all the time. I didn't know the guy that well, but from what she told me, I started to get the impression that they didn't have a good relationship. I told her that every time she told me another story about some negative behavior of his that it made me think he was uncommunicative, angry, mean, and unkind. I never heard any positive stories about him, so it was a very one-sided view of what he was like. Of course, once they had talked and resolved their fights, I didn't hear anything else about him, so even though she had forgotten what how he had acted, I never did, so it soured my opinion of him in some ways.
By resolving your problems with you significant other first, you keep the issues within your relationship, and keep the trust within your relationship. I can imagine it would be extremely hurtful to discover your significant other talking about your personal relationship problems with another person. I personally wouldn't trust the person to not talk about personal problems to other people, thus potentially damaging the relationship.
Talk to your significant other first if you have a problem with their behavior. Don't vent to other people if you are angry, sad, or frustrated even though it may be tempting. If they are leaving their clothes all over the floor and it drives you nuts, say, "Hey buddy, you are leaving your clothes everywhere and it is making me feel very frustrated. I'd like it if you'd pick up your clothes as you take them off and put them in a designated area." Whatever it is, even if it's more serious than something irritating, talk to your significant other first. Don't let other people into your relationship unless you absolutely need to (like if you are being abused, etc.).
Tell others about resolved problems as a way to teach them about how to resolve issues in relationships in a healthy way. I would never discuss unresolved issues within my relationship to others, but I have discussed resolved issues as a way to teach others how to solve a specific situation. I would never discuss any issues that I wouldn't discuss with my husband in the room, but there have been plenty of times I've shared advice with others on how to remedy a situation. Help others, but do it with your significant other in mind.
Be Fair and Empathetic - Don't Always Try to Get "Your Way"
A good relationship is about give and take and taking turns. No one is entitled to get their way all the time. One person getting what they want all the time can lead to resentment, anger, frustration, and sadness. Imagine if you were with someone and you only got to do what they wanted to do, how would that feel? Remember that your significant other is your friend too and they deserve to be happy, so when you are deciding on what restaurant to go to, what activity to do for date night, or what relative to go see, take turns deciding and make it fair, because everyone deserves to be autonomous.
The "Pick Three and Choose One" Rule
My husband and I have always found it difficult to choose what restaurants to go to, so one day I searched for advice on how to choose a restaurant fairly. I remember coming across a website where a guy said he and his girlfriend would take turns choosing three restaurants they liked, then have the other person choose one of those three. That way the person choosing got to eat at one of three places they enjoyed, but the other person also got a choice as well. We have found that advice to be extremely helpful. It also works for activities, so if you find yourselves having a hard time choosing between the movies, a play, or an amusement park, just use this rule (and remember to take turns!).
Pick Days For Activities
My husband and I have different hobbies, so it became an issue at one point because while we both enjoy spending time with each other, we also need time to work on our own hobbies. We don't have enough time to do both, so we designated days for each other where we each get to choose the activity for the day. The days I chose were Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and my husband chose Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. On Fridays we each get two hours to pick an activity.
Have Fun/Play Games/Prank Each Other
From the very beginning of our relationship, my husband knew that I loved to play pranks and laugh. I used to unlace his running shoes and boots and re-lace them backwards, so the bow was at the top of the shoes and boots. At this point I have played so many pranks he is kind of used to it, but always has to be on his toes because I am very inventive. Our love of laughing has kept us close and it makes us happier overall.
My husband and I play video games together as one of our hobbies and it is good for our relationship. We improve skills such as teamwork, communication, a sense of fair play, kindness, empathy, and autonomy. We have a lot of fun while playing too, so it brings joy into our relationship.
You don't have to play video games together; board games, outdoor activities, sports, and anything that requires teamwork that is fun can improve skills such as effective communication, teamwork, a sense of fair play, kindness, empathy, and autonomy.
A few times a week I wait until my husband takes our dog out to the bathroom and I hide somewhere. I wait until he comes back and starts to search for me, then I jump out and scare the crap out of him. I've been doing this for as long as I've known him and it brings a playfulness to our relationship.
You don't have to hide and jump out to scare your significant other, but it is really, really, really fun to do.
Any kind of playfulness is good for your relationship. I used to put a ton of baby powder inside of my husband's boots so when he'd step into them, there would be a huge cloud of powder with every step for a few steps (it was hilarious). Be inventive, think about your significant other's sense of humor and find something that they will find funny or fun.
Don't be afraid to be silly or look silly. I sometimes start dancing in the silliest way possible to make my husband laugh when he is upset. I can cross my eyes and move them around independently, so I don't really care if I look silly; whatever makes your significant other laugh, use it!
I hope these tips have helped you if you are looking for ways to improve your relationship or are looking for the right relationship and don't know what to look for. You can have a great relationship with someone who is also your best friend. You don't have to settle for anything less than someone who is perfect for you. Once you decide you deserve the best, you will know what to look for.
Do you have any advice on how to have a good relationship? Who do you know that has a great relationship that you admire? Please share in the comments below!