Having the love of a lifetime doesn’t usually just happen by itself, it takes two people of high integrity with high levels of commitment to each other: these people must be willing to communicate, fight, laugh, and cry together. For the love of a lifetime to last, it takes extreme dedication no matter how magical it is in the beginning. Many of us can think of examples of couples we know getting married young and staying in love for many many years, they are from a different time than us, a time where people were different as well, and even most of them will tell you what the secret is…hard work.
Previous generations had the luxury of having good values and work ethic built into their society, our grandmothers and grandfathers in the early 1900’s and late 1800’s lived in a time where people had a better society of integrity to grow up in. In general, people had less sexual liberations, increased focus on family values and loyalty, they had closer relationships, less technological distractions, and they lived in an age where marriages and love usually lasted much longer than today. There were a whole host of HIGHLY complicated differences (this could be an entire article by itself) that made earlier days a much less volatile environment for love.
For true love to exist we need two individuals with high integrity and self awareness. These people need to be highly conscious and continuously growing people. They should love themselves and understand that their place in life is not who they are, but a stepping stone to become who they would like to be. They should care for each other deeply, appreciate each other, love their similarities and warmly embrace their differences. They must be open to communication. They must be prepared for battle! (seriously love is like war sometimes). They must be constantly trying to learn and become a better partner to their lover.
So how do we do it?
1. Love unconditionally
In order to experience the love of a lifetime we must be prepared to love someone with the same kind of love that a parent gives a child. What I mean is this: we must love our partner without judgment, we must allow them the freedom to grow, we must love them because we have no choice. Loving someone unconditionally means that your love for them is not dependent upon their actions or words towards you: it means that just like a parent loves their child, because they are a child, you must love your partner because they are your partner.
2. Be patient
Patience isn’t an option if you are looking for true love. Love is hard: it maybe the hardest thing that anyone can do in life. Your partner will frustrate you sometimes and there will be cycles of tension and times of relief. There will be times that everything you say to your partner hits a wall of frustration and bounces back at you with malicious intent: in these instances it is important to keep your cool and remain patient with them, at least one person needs to be open and calm in order to resolve a conflict.
3. Be open to change
It is inevitable that over time both people change in a relationship. Us and our partners will develop into different people with different beliefs and passions (this is especially true if you are both involved with self improvement), even some of our deep core values may change as we shift our priorities in different phases of our lives. Part of loving unconditionally is giving the space for your partner to grow and loving them for who they are even if it changes. We must also be open to changing ourselves, we must be willing to change our comfort zones and try new things to keep up with the interests of our partner. One of the best ways to bond with your partner is to try new things and share in new experiences with each other, if we are too afraid to try new things then our relationships will grow stagnant more quickly.
4. Try your best
This means that you should attempt to give your partner 100% of you at all times: it doesn’t mean you spend all your time with them or do everything they say, it means that everything you do (even without them) should have them in mind. When we make decisions it should reflect a serious love and devotion to them, we should try to avoid actions and words that hurt them, we should encourage them to grow, we should give them patience and space when they need it, we should comfort them when they need it. Trying your best means to be mindful of this person and give them our best at every moment.
5. Appreciate every day
No days are ever promised, every day people die young and die unexpectedly. We do not know when our lives will end, and likewise, we don’t know when the life of a loved one could end either. When we have been with someone for a while we start assuming they will never leave our lives, this can cause us to act differently towards them over time; we often begin to take them for granted and start treating them as a normal thing in our life, but they aren’t a “normal” everyday occurrence in our life, this person is the love of a lifetime, your best friend, your security in the very worst of times. Start looking at this person every morning and asking what it would be like if you lost them today. You should be cherishing all of your moments together.
6. Believe in love
A no brainer, if you don’t believe in love you’re not going to experience the love of a lifetime. We have to be open to love and believe in the power of true love to transcend all of our pain and bad past experiences, we have to believe that there is the right person out there for us, even if that person is already in our lives. You will not find what you cannot see.
7. Prepare for bad times and good times
Even the love of a lifetime is going to have conflict, pain, and bad times. Unfortunately negative emotions are part of the human experience. There will be days that you or your partner carry negative energy into your relationship, times where you will hurt each other, or days where old scars will cause pain in your relationship. If we expect the “perfect” relationship to actually be perfect and never have any bumps, then we will be sorely disappointed at the reality of love. We can work hard to communicate and avoid conflict, we can have great relationships and very successful ones, but there will never be a relationship where everything is perfect 100% of the time.
8. Make yourself vulnerable
If we want to experience true love then we have to release the fear of being hurt and make ourselves vulnerable. We have to trust our partner and their intentions: we must believe that they have our best interests in mind. If we can’t trust this person there are one of several problems: we have our own internal baggage we need to take care of, the person is not trustworthy, or we need to work on our communication with our partner and increase our trust. Being in true love means being vulnerable: you have to be in a position to experience great pain to experience great love.
9. Improve yourself
Committing to continuous improval not only ensures that we grow as people, but it also ensures we will be improving as a partner as well. We must be mindful of ways that we can become better and increase the strength of our relationship. We have to be willing to listen to our partners desires and needs and try our best to learn to provide for them in the best way we can. We may need to learn to change many things about ourselves, but often if we listen deeply our partner will be challenging us to strengthen our weaknesses and become a better person: they incite growth that we need as individuals. A relationship has a huge potential to change us for the better and make us become the person we always wanted to be.
10. Release your expectations
Expectations are the silent killer of relationships. When we start expecting our partner to behave or do certain things our way, we slowly hamper their individuality and the differences that made us fall in love with them. Expectations are a silent contract that takes the connection and spontaneity out of relationships and replaces them with resentment and routine. We should not seek to change our partner, but only to express concerns and feelings. If our partner loves us, they will respond much better to a statement that a behavior hurts us than they will to an accusation and a requirement that they change their behavior. Additionally, by working on our own reactions to what they do and changing our perceptions we are often able to let go of the small things and start loving that person like we did when we first met.
Many people may not even believe that true love exists, there is a whole world of people who believe true love is just a fairy tale propagated by hopeless romantics and dreamers, but true love does exist. We have seen true love before, it exists now, and it can exist for you as well. True love won’t happen by accident, rather, you must ensure that you are ready for it when it comes to you. Like anything else in life, working on yourself and developing the habits of character to make you a successful person will ensure you have the track record of will power and integrity necessary to build the love of a lifetime. Good luck, and I hope everyone out there can learn to experience the gift of true love.