The big red hearts, the cute, fluffy teddy bears, the beautiful long roses, the sweet, delicious chocolates… No, no, no. Not this time. We’re not talking about love for one day of the year (and don’t retailers just love that day?)

It’s the other 364 days we’re worried about. How are you spending them? How are you proving your love without all this ‘red stuff’? What have you got to say about it all?

I met my husband for the first time at the age of 16. A school camp in the middle of the woods. A real, big crush during the hot, sunny summer holidays. What a time… You know what it’s like, those first feelings, the thrill, the excitement, the butterflies in the stomach… And we had beautiful moments, like jumping into the lake hand-in-hand, dancing under the stars in the open-air disco, or sneaking away secretly to have long night talks on the beach… The ideal scenario for a film. Believe me.

This is a time when you need absolutely nothing. Nothing except the opportunity to be together. But time is flying by and then – hello reality and everyday life.

After 20 years in the same one relationship, there are a few rules I have learnt and that I would like to share with you:

1) Start with yourself

Whether you’ve found your beloved or not, there is one golden rule: you have to start with yourself! You can’t build a healthy and happy love relationship if you don’t know and love yourself. You should know your needs, what makes you happy and what hurts you. What you want from life and where you are going. Then you can give it to your partner, as well as understand their personality and purpose in life. This way you can work out how to connect together.

If there are any problems, first ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you feeling?
  • Why are you feeling this way?
  • What are your needs?
  • What are you missing?
  • What makes you feel better?

Just try to understand yourself first. Then you’re ready for…

2) Trustful and honest conversation

This is the key to building a strong love relationship. Try to talk about yourself, about your feelings and how the behaviour of your partner affects you. Don’t judge them, but evaluate their actions. Be open to hearing their criticisms too because the truth, more often than not, lies in the middle. The truth can be painful, but only in this way can you understand each other, what you have in your hearts and minds.

What’s more, we very often read our partner’s behaviour differently to what their intentions were. Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself, with your head playing through different scenarios, one after the other, discovering the new false truth, with your partner as the main actor. This isn’t a film, don’t let your mind control you. Instead, take control together with your partner and find mutual understanding. And to help you with this…

3) Love rituals and traditions

Plan valuable time dedicated to you both alone, just as you would book a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting. Not very romantic? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’ll have your time together as a couple. You’ll see, it will pay off in the long run.

  • a weekend away, hopefully once every 6-12 months; just pick the date and choose the destination, even somewhere close to home; simply changing the space and being in different surroundings will work to create a unique atmosphere
  • an evening date or even a lunch out, the one time per month when you don’t have to cook and can take pleasure in being together, just like at the beginning of your relationship
  • a time during the day, such as a morning coffee before work or an evening talk in bed before sleep; make this your ritual

But remember…

4) Every day counts

You’re working towards different short- and long-term goals. Do you want a great body? You know that every meal and every training session has meaning if want to see the results. Are you working hard to land a dream job? You’re trying to gain all the skills and experience you need to get that offer. Because everything has meaning.

The same with your love relationship. Every day counts! So don’t forget that every single gesture, every warm thought, every little surprise, adds up. A love note in her diary, an intimate phone message to him or a little, surprise gift for no particular occasion. All of these show your love and that you care. Every small step goes towards building a strong, true love relationship.

february friends

What you give away is what you get back. And in the long term you’ll definitely see – but most importantly, feel – the results. If not, the red light in your head and heart will tell you what to do. Turn around and don’t look back. You know best how much you’re worth and what you should expect. (Remember rule number 1 first!) But…

5) Don’t give up too easily

We’re living in times when we want a quick fix and fast results. We’re surrounded by photoshopped pictures, lurid chemical foods and offers to buy followers or friends. But this isn’t a genuine world, an honest life. If you want a deep love relationship with ups and downs and smiles and tears, with a person to share with, believe in and support – just love without expecting anything in return. Just love as you would like to be loved.

It’s so easy to leave one relationship and go into another one. But it will be the same story if you don’t do the hard work first, if you just give up and run away from the problems.

When you take two unique people and tell them to live together for the rest of their lives, with their virtues, faults and habits, it’s not easy. But –

Nobody said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.

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