New York - United States
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5 Simple but Often Forgotten Ways to Keep a Relationship Strong“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.” ~UnknownOut of our six loving years together, my partner and I spent two and a half years in a long-distance relationship. During these years there were times we communicated nearly daily, but there were also times when we couldn’t even email or text for a month at a time while I was living in an African village.Being separated by an ocean from the person that is the most important to me was of course difficult and painful, but I believe it also made our relationship stronger.We have learned some invaluable lessons about love and relationships from being separated by the distance. These lessons are still crucial in our relationship and allow us to maintain our love, happiness, and harmony.After the long-distance part of our relationship, we moved in together. We lived a “normal couple-life,” spending daytime apart, eating dinner together, unwinding with a movie while cuddling, and spending our weekends together.Then we set off to travel. For over a year, we volunteered on organic farms, hitchhiked, couchsurfed, and traveled together.During this year we spend nearly every hour of every day together, or at least near each other. Talk about making up for the long-distance time. Yet, we still employed what we learned during our years apart.I truly believe that we learned and practiced the universal truths that are essential for every relationship regardless of the distance.TrustWhen I was apart from my boyfriend people didn’t understand how I remained so calm and never worried that he would cheat on me or leave me. How I did it was so simple: I always trusted him. We would have never made it without our trust for each other and for our relationship.Trust is crucial. Period. No ifs or buts.If you are in the relationship for the long term, you simply cannot afford to have trust issues. There is no room for doubt. You have to trust with a full heart that your partner loves you.Quality timeAs I mentioned before, during our long-distance years weeks passed by without us being able to talk to each other. We had to have quality conversations rather than only chit chatting about meaningless things.We even added fun and meaningful activities, like carving Halloween pumpkins or having a meal together through the Internet.Quality time is essential. Whether you are in a long-distance relationship or just live a busy life with full-time jobs and outside activities, you may not be able to spend as much time as you’d like with your loved one.Do something fun together, do something meaningful, have meaningful conversations, pay attention to each other, and express your love like crazy.CommunicationCommunication is always crucial, especially when you communicate through Skype. We quickly realized that the way we communicated with each other was key to maintain a loving conversation.When you communicate with your loved one, remember that love is the key. Speak from the heart.Have good intentions and be clear. Discuss problems in a peaceful and loving manner.Practice effective active listening skills; do not interrupt the other person, listen and watch. Be mindful.Remain calm. Be respectful. Be loving.Small acts of kindnessSmall acts of kindness have always been a big part of our relationship. When we were apart we sent each other postcards, eCards, handwritten letters, and songs over email. When we were in the same country we bought each other flowers and made each other some wonderful meals.Small acts are vital. Whether it is a small gift, doing the dishes, or giving a hug, it shows your love and support.Send flowers, send an ecard, or leave a small note on the table. Bake cookies or make breakfast in bed. Give hugs and kisses for no reason other than to show your love.Express Your LoveExpressing our love for each other was probably the most crucial thing in our relationship. It still is. We always make sure to tell each other how much we love each other, and do it with meaning.Love is always the foundation. It’s nearly obvious, but sometimes so obvious that couples tend to forget about it, and saying “I love you” becomes monotonous. But love is the basis and the reason of your relationship.So express your love through actions, words, and non-verbal communication. Don’t make “I love you” a routine, but instead always, and I do mean always, say it from the heart.