Someone asked me recently, "How can I have a "perfect relationship" with my significant other?" What would you say?
I wrote down some initial thoughts, in no particular order.
1. Lay aside the whole idea of perfection. It's a pipe dream. People aren't perfect, thus relationships never will be. That's reality. Accept it. Love is sometimes sweet; but more often it's sweat.
2. Learn what your partner's needs are and make it your mission to meet them. This is harder than you think, and yes, it takes a lifetime, because people constantly change. Did you know that?
3. Learn the power of listening. Listening is how you value someone. Listening is love.
4. Reject the world's portrayal of beauty. Beauty comes in all shapes, colors, sizes and complexions. Don't be hung up on the glaze. Enjoy the doughnut.
5. Determine to respond, not react. People who react are a dime-a-dozen.
6. Always be a little kinder than is necessary. Always. This may be the most important thing on the list.
7. Don't compare yourself or your partner to others. Comparisons are dumb. Would you like to be compared?
8. Fall in love with God. You have a lot to learn. He will help you.
9. Ask questions. Be inquisitive. Be passionate about knowing how your partner thinks and feels. You'll never know another's mind and heart if you don't explore it.
10. Pray together.
11. Play together. Have fun for crying out loud! Long after you're gone there should still be laughter in the walls.
12. Choose to forgive. It's an act of the will, not an emotion. It's the only way to be free of past pain.
13. Be a person of integrity. Your partner will find that very attractive.
14. Don't be too nostalgic. All we have for sure...is now.
15. Don't be a flirt. Ask yourself, "How would my partner feel about my verbal traffic with the opposite sex?" Never rationalize your answer.
16. Make a list of all the good things you see in your partner, then make a list of the "bad." Now throw away the "bad" list and don't look back. I'm not saying you should be codependent. I'm saying, "Be wise." Perspective changes a lot of things.
17. Don't try to be your partner's personal coach. Let them grow, think, make mistakes and learn. You'll be surprised at how well they can do without your advice.
18. Love them even when they disagree with you. That's what secure, mature people do.
19. Always be respectful. Both men and women need it, but men need it most. Discerning women know this.
20. Be faithful. A woman once told me that she'd rather have been raped by a total stranger than to have the man to whom she'd given her whole heart violate her trust.
21. Be responsible with money. Save 10%. Give 10%. Live on the rest.
22. Spend time together. You did it when you dated; you can do it now. Take walks. Have conversations. Court each other. Be creative.
23. Read books on relationships. Keep learning and growing. Why would you ever conclude that you know all you need to know?
24. Don't make a career of trying to change your partner. More people suffer from trying to change someone else than any other sickness.
25. Speaking of sickness, love each other in it, and through it. Vows are more than cutesy words in a cutesy ceremony. This is sacrificial love at its finest and most sacred moments.
So...twenty-five things. What would YOU add to the list? We both know, of course, that such lists will never be perfect. Neither will we. I'm glad. Being perfect is exhausting.