Eric and I celebrated our anniversary of being a couple for 18 years on Saturday. A friend sent me a message, wishing us well, and she asked if I had any advice for a successful relationship. While the length of our marriage doesn't hold a candle to the longevity of our parents' marriages, we do have a pretty darn long relationship for people in our age range. So basically this qualifies us as complete relationship experts...right? Yes, of course it does. We certainly have everything figured out at this point...smooth sailing from here to forever.
No, but in all seriousness it got me to thinking, what advice do I have to give based on my limited experience? I came up with three things. Unfortunately I really wanted to package it up in a tidy manner The three Cs of a successful relationship, but sadly it is not quite so tidy. Let's settle for the Three K Sounds of a Successful Relationship. Honestly I think this applies to a marriage, friendship, parenting or really any human relationship. So here we gooooooo....
1) Kindness--I know, can you believe it? I am talking about kindness again. Truthfully I am always whispering to myself,"be kind," sometimes through gritted teeth when the mother is shouting at her child in the store. It is not an easy task to simply be kind. I think it is something we are all working on in general. With regard to a relationship it is pretty clear, do not say or do unkind things. If Eric or I do falter, because we are human, we apologize and try harder next time. We both want the other to be happy and fulfilled by their time here on this planet.
2) Compassion--I cannot express the importance and power of compassion enough. Compassion for your partner, for yourself, for every living being. We all do better when another extends us their compassion.
3) Communication--Only one way to be on the same page, talk about it. Eric and I are pretty good at communicating, but sometimes that simply means telling the other that they will talk when they are able. Personally, I will sometimes acknowledge that I am feeling irrational or whatever and that I need some time to get myself to a good place to talk. Eric will let me know that he is ready to listen when I am ready to talk...and then I have to work to get to that point, and vice versa.
So, after 18 years that is what I know. What advice do you have (asking nervously and hoping nobody gives crazy talk)?