“When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on–series polygamy–until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter,” explained Tom Robbins.
Our relationship with our loved ones is more of a reflection on our relationship with ourselves than anything else.
It’s surprising how much our connection with our partner depends on our ability to be whole as an individual. Truly, two halves cannot make a whole – but when two wholes come together, they can create something that is beyond explanation.
Here are 25 ways they do just that:
1. They learn more about one another every day. People grow continuously. Healthy couples keep up with this, and show interest and respect when it comes to their partner’s personal evolution.
2. They are generous with praise, understanding, reassurance, and forgiveness.
3. They cultivate their own inner world, full of private jokes and personal rituals.
4. They welcome difficult discussions. They don’t shut themselves off from one another when they are uncomfortable.
5. They cultivate their own hobbies, interests, friendships, and sense of identity outside of the relationship.
6. They share goals – financial, educational, fitness related, or otherwise – and help one another attain them.
7. They are not afraid to be vulnerable with one another.
8. They engage spiritually with one another, through joint prayer, meditation, or other meaningful activities.
9. They forgive one another quickly and sincerely.
10. They touch frequently – holding hands, kissing goodbye, or even play wrestling.
11. They do not keep secrets. They always come clean with their partner, even when doing so is shameful or uncomfortable.
12. They set aside time to connect with one another daily – even when doing so is not convenient.
13. They discuss personal philosophies in depth, including volatile topics such as politics and religion. They respect one another’s differences, and possibly even learn from divergent viewpoints.
14. They operate in a way that works for them as a couple, rather than giving into external pressure to conform to certain gender roles or societal expectations.
15. They share their thoughts and feelings honestly, even when they know their partner might not like what they have to say.
16. They do not look at their phone – or computer, TV, or tablet – while their partner is speaking to them.
17. They share stories from their childhood – good and bad.
18. They ask each other lots of questions, and truly listen to the answers.
19. They volunteer and engage with their community as a team. They grow their souls together.
20. They invest time in their relationship. They engage intentionally in regular date nights during which they are fully devoted to one another.
21. They are intentional in fighting with fairness and love.
22. They do not demand perfection from their partner or from themselves.
23. They communicate openly and are always willing to talk.
24. They value the silly as much as the serious.
25. They don’t wait for the big moments to express affection. Instead, they cultivate love in the little moments every day.
Related: Six Habits of Very Happy Couples
“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home,” wrote Stephanie Perkins. A happy relationship is almost magical in its ability to transcend reason. It allows us to feel safe, but stimulated; individually whole, but a part of something greater; deeply flawed, but somehow just right. If you find this magic, never let it go. It’s truly one of the greatest treasures in our universe.