Here at The Relationship Project, we’re all about opening the doors to successful relationships and showcasing behind the scenes. Part of our mission includes featuring couples we’ve found to have lessons for us all, inspiring stories, and are just plain awesome. If you’d like to check those out, you can do that here with our interviews and here with our guest posts.
Over the past year of interviewing couples here’s what we’ve learned. (Get ready–it’s good.)
1. This is obvious, so we put it first. ALL couples have struggles.
All of them. Every last one. Even the good ones. Especially the great ones. From communication issues to infertility and grief, to long distance, mental health, and even addiction. The couples we interviewed had many things in common, but most of all was the struggles. In the great relationships? Those struggles brought them even closer. They used those struggles as building blocks to strengthen the foundation of their relationships, engagements, and marriages.
2. Most of them bicker about socks.
Yep. Clean socks, dirty socks, socks on the floor, collecting socks. This one is weird. But hey, we’re being honest here. The socks (apparently) are a thing. (And yes, we bicker about socks, too.)
3. Choosing to make the relationship a priority leads to success.
BUT. It has to be when both partners choose it and relatively at the same time. Timing was huge when it comes to these couples we interviewed however, an equal piece of that puzzle was intentionally making the relationship a priority at the same time. This two fold learning was crucial in these relationship successes.
4. Actually DOING the work leads to success.
This follows quite nicely, doesn’t it? Regardless of timing or prioritizing, acting out the relationship skills and learning was key. Doing the work, taking the classes, having hard conversations, going to meetings, reading the books, attending counselling, making the compromises, correcting the mistakes, learning the skills and leaning in. (Geez, it almost sounds torture.) But it’s true. These relationships were successful because both people, at roughly the same time, performed the act of being in a relationship together.
5. Communication is hard for EVERYONE.
All couples, yes ALL of them, had communication issues. Differing styles, bad habits, lack of experience, and more, all lead to challenges with communication. (Whew. Thank goodness, we’re normal, right?)
6. Love Languages is a thing.
Most of the couples had heard of, practiced, or was life-changed by The Love Languages. So, if you haven’t heard of it–you know what to do. If you have, keep it up.
7. Expectations can make or break it.
All of the couples had something to say around expectations. Society, family, and even themselves, had expectations on what a relationship was supposed to be, how fast it was supposed to progress, what roles were, what is “right” or “good” or “better”. The expectations not only had an impact on their relationship but how they handled the it did as well. The couples either adjusted them, tweaked them, or even tuned them out, in order to be successful as a team and create their own definition of love.
8. ALL love stories exist.
Love after divorce or ending an engagements. Love with an age gap, illness, different cultures and religions. Transgender love and gay love. Love with kids and without. Love at first sight when your first date is moving in together, and love that builds years of courtship and slow progression. Love that leads to marriage and love that doesn’t know yet. It’s ALL there. And in our personal opinions, this is the message we are wanting to send with The Relationship Project. ALL love stories exist, not just the Disney fairytales. (Sorry, Walt)
Well, there you have it. 8 things we learned from interviewing couples for a year. The most important lesson we learned from this process?
Do you know a couple that has lessons to share? Give us a shout here and let us know!