While there are many different ways to tie the love knot, certain common denominators exist among the ranks of the contented. To increase the odds that your relationship will succeed, consider the following strategies:

1. The couple that plays together stays together. Do you find you want to see the same movies and spectator sports? Or is your honey off surfing every weekend while you’re solving complicated equations with your local math club? Does your mate crave vacations in inaccessible snowy mountains while you’re hankering after Caribbean getaways? If you can’t have fun spending your down time together, your relationship has a built-in expiration date.

2. Talk, talk, talk! Sure, the silent heaving sighs of the passionate nocturnal embrace are important, especially in those heated first weeks. But unless you’ve got something to talk about in the long stretches of the daylight hours — or unless you want to spend your entire life naked — you’re not going to see it through.

3. Let’s get physical. Not every encounter has to make the sparks fly and the house burn down — save that for bad South American movies. But you need to make sure the physical side of things works. There has to be a little bit of spice, even in your daily fare.

4. Be on the same page. Do you both view the relationship as a kind of strange experiment, a way-station on the path to true love, or the beginnings of a lifelong dream come true? What matters isn’t so much your answer, but that you choose the same answer.

5. Fight fair. All couples have spots of bad weather, from minor squalls to raging storms. But smart partners don’t allow molehills to become mountains or use their words as weapons. No matter how angry you may be, refrain from attacking your partner’s character or preying on insecurities.

6. Learn the art of making up. Fights are inevitable. But what matters is that both of you know how to drop it once all your frustrations have been vented and then kiss and smooch in between the tears and sloppy "I love you" talk. If necessary, cultivate short-term memory loss.

7. Create a cult of two. Every couple has a special something that keeps things going. Each has some special shared passion — whether it’s amateur astronomy, gourmet cooking or children. Other relationships thrive on shared dislikes — of neighbors and in-laws, of other countries or political systems. Some couples thrive on a master-servant relationship. Others find that the key to their success is that they only see each other on Sundays. Every relationship that works has something unique — it’s own raison d’etre. If you can find that, you can safely ignore all the other rules.

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