What makes a relationship successful?

Keys to a successful relationship

These real-life couples share their experiences so that yours can last for the long-term too.

Trust
Are you often jealous or suspicious? Have you always felt the need to probe your partner's actions? This could lead to avoidable misunderstandings. "My ex-boyfriend was absolutely possessive and suspicious of my male friends. He would constantly go through my phone to check on my messages and calls. Two years into the relationship, I was becoming resentful and had enough of his accusations. I left and never looked back." says Kavitha, 29.

Doing things together
Have you been together for so long that you can't feel the spark anymore? You might be starting to take your relationship for granted. Well, for things to work, you have to put effort into it. No matter how busy you are, commit at least an evening or two every week to spend time with each other. Have new experiences, share stories and learn to enjoy each other's company again. "My husband and I have been married for 8 years and came to a point where we felt we were just housemates rather than a couple. One day, very spontaneously, decided to take a long leave. We took this time to travel and really be together, not just physically but emotionally. These new experiences saved our marriage and completely changed our lives." says Katherine, 34.

Not sweating the small stuff
Some couples tend to argue about the smallest things; are you one of them? Think about it: Would it be too much to forgive your partner for forgetting to put the toilet seat down or to take out the trash? "I used to nitpick at my husband whenever he forgets to run our household errands. We would also argue constantly over trivial matters and this can go on for days. One day I got a wakeup call when my husband met with an accident. It is then looking at him in the hospital that I realised how unappreciative I was of him and that all those little arguments over errands were really pointless. I recognise that in order for us to be happy, we have to learn to compromise. Now we no longer argue over petty issues, instead we talk about it and move on." says Patricia, 34.

Saying "I love you"
Actions speak louder than words, but it wouldn't hurt to say these three words too. Take a moment now and then to verbalise your feelings: A simple "I love you" or "You mean the world to me" makes your significant other feel wanted, cared for and secure in your relationship. "I love it when my boyfriend tells me he adores me. His verbal affirmation makes me feel loved and appreciated." says, Nurin, 27.

Showing affection
Small acts of physical intimacy — like holding hands while walking, a gentle peck on the cheek or cuddling while watching TV — gives your partner a warm feeling, and expresses your love for them. "Showering each other with affection is important in maintaining the spark in our relationship. I've been married for 31 years and am still very much in love with my husband. We never fail to hold hands and he still kisses me before he goes to work. There's really no secret to a successful relationship. It is simple acts of affection like these that keeps us in love." says Nancy, 54.

Getting to know their friends and family
These are the most important people in your life. To try to get along or establish a connection with your partner's friends and family, Suzie, 28, suggests: "I used to shy away from my fiancé's family functions as I am uncomfortable with social events in general. Thankfully my fiancé has been really supportive of my situation. As months went by, I began to understand how important his family is to him and I started to make an effort to join in on his family dinners and trips. Surprisingly, I felt at ease immediately and it's actually a great feeling being in the company of his family and I will never trade that for anything else."

Not forcing anyone to change
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to mould a person into who they want him or her to be. "If you think you can change your partner into someone you want him to be, unfortunately it's not going to happen, says Yanti, 26. "I used to think I could change my boyfriend's lifestyle, but instead of helping him, we became resentful towards each other and were constantly bickering. I realised that change has to come from him freely and cannot be forced." The key words here are compromise and acceptance.

Being understanding and considerate of one another
When things don't go as planned, do you blow your top? Does he or she have quirks that you can't stand? Remember, you have quirks and habits that may irritate your partner too. "My husband is a medical officer and is constantly on-call. I've been stood up so many times because of his job. I'd get so upset and will ignore him for days. After witnessing him on-duty one day at the emergency ward, I realised how small and insignificant my complaints were as opposed to his responsibility to save lives. It's a lot of compromise I admit, but he has also made some adjustments so he could spend more time with me," says, Farah, 33.

Treating each other as equals
Don't have unreasonable expectations or demands from your partner when you are incapable of fulfilling them yourself. Strive to be equal in all aspects — from household duties to making everyday decisions.

How else can you and your partner keep the love alive, or maintain your special bond?

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