I will use the six colors from the artist’s color wheel which is the foundation of the Primary Colors Personality Insight tools to help you understand twelve things, that if you understand them, will help you create long-lasting love.
1. Never take your partner for granted. This may sound obvious, but you can't imagine how many people don’t choose to learn how to love themselves and their partner better before it’s too late. I always tell people not to wait until things are terrible, or when your partner is done with a relationship and wants to end it. 'No relationship is perfect' shouldn't be used as a rationalization for complacency. If you are feeling disconnected, that is the time to take a positive step toward each other. People have different tolerances, needs and desires depending on their personality. How much do you understand about who you are? How well do you believe you understand your partner? King Solomon tells us that “With all thy getting, get wisdom.” It is easy to learn more about yourself and those you love.
2. Do or say something daily to show your appreciation.
Small, simple but heart-felt expressions of gratitude yield big rewards. When people feel recognized as special and appreciated, they're happier in their relationship and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger. When I say simple, I really mean it. Make small gestures that show you're paying attention: Hug, kiss, hold hands, buy a small gift, send a card, fix a favorite dessert, put gas in the car, or tell your partner, ‘You're beautiful (or sexy),’ ‘You're the best mom (dad),’ or simply say ‘Thank you for being wonderful,’ or ‘I won the relationship lottery when I found you.’”
3. It's not what you fight about—it's how you fight.
Researchers have found that four types of conflict, that if present simultaneously, they are able to predict whether couples remain together or get divorced. They are contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. Instead of resorting to these negative tactics, be aware of when they rear their ugly heads. Also watch out for sarcasm and passive-aggressive tendencies.
It is important to fight fairly: what does fighting fairly mean? It really means that you do not resort to ugliness when you are angry with one another. Escalating you feelings of contempt or criticism, withdrawing or stonewalling, refusing to discuss things that are difficult and defensiveness or negative interpretation all happen when people move into their EXTREME versions of their color personality tendencies. Make a promise to yourself that even when you are angry, you won’t hit the person you love below the belt, but instead you will fight fair.
4. Remember to take breaks, not break each other’s hearts.
No matter how in love you are or how long you've been together, it's important to get inspiration from someone other than your partner. Your partner cannot take on the responsibility of loving, healing, entertaining or making you happy. You must have other sources to fill your tank. Hang out with friends until late in the evening, take a weekend trip to visit family, or just spend time 'doing something special for you'. Take a class, take up a new hobby, do something that you are interested in and when you return home you will return feeling full, and when you feel full, you have so much more to share with your partner.
5. If you focus only on SEX, your partner may end up your EX.
Sex isn't the only reason to have a partner and sex is not just about orgasms. Although I will grant you, it is a terrific bonus. You must allow sexual encounters to also be about sensation, emotional intimacy, stress relief, and increased emotional bonding with your partner. Thanks to the wonderful release of hormones, particularly oxytocin, due to physical touch, we feel connected with another person in a very wonderful and intimate way.
Expand your concept of sex to include anything that involves close, intimate connection with your partner, such as sensual massages, taking a nice shower or bath together, reading an erotic story together, playing with some fun toys… the possibilities are endless. And if orgasm happens, great, and if not, that's OK too. When you expand your definition of sex and lower the pressure on orgasm and penetration, the anxiety around performance dissipates and your satisfaction can escalate.
6. Share your annoyances with respect.
The way you bring up a problem can determine how the rest of that conversation will go. When an issue is brought up by attacking or blaming, which is experienced as criticism, is sets the conversational tone to conflict. So bring up issues with respect. Instead of accusing, 'You always leave your clothes all over the place! Why can’t you pick anything up?' try a more respectful approach, focusing on your own emotional reaction and a positive request. For example: 'I feel annoyed when I find your clothes thrown around. We share this space and I need it to be tidier. Can you please pick up your clothes and put them in the laundry?’"
7. Make sure you're meeting your partner's needs.
Love is a social exchange, as well as a feeling. But even more importantly, it is a choice, a verb, an action word. Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of others. That is why it is important to pay attention to how you and your partner consistently express your love... not just how you feel in the moment. When we are happy and fulfilled love requires nothing of us. It is easy to be kind and respectful. Where it gets challenging is when we don’t FEEL like behaving in loving ways and yet, we choose to behave lovingly anyway that really determines the lasting quality of our love.
8. You are responsible for you. Take care of yourself.
One of the major causes of relationship problems: is when we abandon ourselves. We can 'abandon' ourselves in many areas: emotional (judging or ignoring our feelings), financial (spending irresponsibly), organizational (being late or messy), physically (eating badly, not exercising, not getting enough sleep), relationally (not being aware of when we go into our extreme color personality tendencies), or spiritual (depending too much on your partner make us feel loved and cared for). You must learn to love yourself rather than depending on your partner to make you feel loved. Your lack of happiness comes from the times you abandon yourself, and stop holding yourself accountable for your own happiness and joy. When you learn to care for yourself in uplifting, responsible and loving ways, you will discover that is also how you love, and relate to, your partner.
9. Stay attractive for YOU and your partner.
There are many things that attract us to another person. We have five senses and we need to understand which of those senses are your partner’s most sensitive. Some people love touch, others are auditory, some people love their sense of smell and with it comes extraordinary sensitivity. Some people are taste oriented while others rely on their eyes for the most stimulation. Play together. Talk to one another. Help each other feel safe about exploring and understanding which of their senses they find the most pleasure in.
Many people believe that marriage requires self-sacrifice. But we do not need to become a martyrs and sacrifice your own happiness in order to make your marriage work. Your number one responsibility in creating a fulfilling and joyful life for yourself is to be self responsible and like and respect who you are. This is easier said than done, but it is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to ensure that our relationship will be mutually satisfying.
10. Challenges are not the end of love—they are the beginning.
Challenges are not the end of love—they are the beginning of deeper love! Don't run from that challenges. They are a real part of loving someone and will always be there. Finding solutions, growing and understanding that you are forced to do because of challenges is your key to happiness as a couple. If you approach conflicts with bitterness, blame, and contempt, your relationship will turn toxic. But if you learn to communicate through your challenges each resolution will serve as a mortar between the bricks of your relationship house.
11. Fall in love with someone’s values, as well as their body.
For long-lasting love, the more similarity (e.g., age, education, values, personality, hobbies), the better. Partners should be especially sure that their values match before getting into marriage. There is an old saying, “Opposites attract.” And it is true. Although differences, like color personality tendencies can be accommodated, tolerated, and greatly enjoyed, not sharing important values is particularly problematic if the goal is long-lasting love. You must choose what you ‘stand for’ in life. The more you agree on the values you choose to stand for together, the stronger your bond, especially when times are challenging.
12. Never lose your sense of humor.
We cannot talk about long-lasting love without remembering the value of humor. My mother used to say, “It is humor and laughter that is the old that keeps your relationship moving up and down.” When we lose our ability to laugh at the times when we are ridiculous, we lose our ability to be resilient. There is nothing more dangerous that for a relationship to get stuck like the tin man in the forest who had rusted and needly to be oiled in order to move freely again. What was the tin man looking for? A heart. Humor is often the heart of conflict resolution. Never forget how to laugh at yourself and life because as Bugs Bunny tells us, “None of us are getting out alive.”
Dawn L Billings is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com and the creator of the comprehensive 26 week relationship help online course called Relationship Help At Home. Dawn is the executive director of the luxury Relationship Help Resort, and the author and architect of the Primary Colors Personality Test and Insight Tools.