Which takes more effort, staying in a relationship or ending it?

In my last post, I talked about the challenges of ending a relationship.  Staying in one can also be a challenge.

I’ve read dozens and dozens of articles, each claiming to reveal the secret to staying together.  Yet not a single one told me anything we all don’t already know.  We have to communicate with each other.  We have to make time for our partner.  We have to have intimacy, laugh together, share goals and dreams.  We have to be on the same page regarding the rearing of our children.  We have to be kind to our in-laws.  On, and on, and on.  No great revelations here.  No light bulb moments.

I don’t have the solution myself.  Clearly,  I can talk more about what not to do than what to do. How about you?  What would you tell your newlywed self?  I know that when I was a 20 year old bride, I believed that my marriage would last forever.  In retrospect, however, I understand that I married way too young to the wrong person and for the wrong reasons.  And that’s okay.  Not every relationship is destined to be joyful and long-lasting.

Since I can’t say that I’ve been 100% successful in my own relationships, I’ve asked people who I consider to be in happy, long-term relationships, to share their secrets.  Everyone has a a different answer!  My parents used to say their secret was separate bathrooms.  And they were married for 64 years!

Here are some of the answers (listed in no particular order) to my informal survey about what it takes to maintain a successful relationship:

  1.  Making a conscious, daily choice to stay together.
  2.  Giving each other space.
  3.  Being the other person’s biggest cheerleader.
  4.  Paying attention to the relationship.
  5.  Taking care of the little things.
  6.  Anticipating the other person’s needs.
  7.  Being kind to each other.
  8.  Staying loyal.
  9.  Trusting each other.


If you’re in a successful relationship, would you be willing to share your secrets?  Which of the items on my list mean the most to you?  Is there anything listed that you think is irrelevant?

What are your thoughts about riding the relationship roller coaster?  Are some people more inclined than others to soldier through the ups and downs?  Is it a matter of being an optimist?  Or a realist?

A good and effective Mediator knows what she doesn’t know.  In order to be of better help to my clients who have already made the decision to end their relationship, I sometimes ask difficult questions.  I think it’s of equal importance to me, as a facilitator of conflict resolution, to learn about what’s working.

Please help me to understand.