Relationships take time, energy, and commitment. Finding the right person is hard enough. Staying with that person is even harder. We tend to have these romantic ideals about how relationships should work, assuming we don't need to put in any work to make that happen.
More than date nights or shared interests, relationships take constant effort and investment. It makes a huge difference to live in alignment with a set of commitments, or sacred promises.
If you’re interested in building and cultivating a relationship that will stand the test of time, consider making these seven promises to your partner:
1. “I promise to be open with you and share my feelings.”
Even though we all want deeper intimacy and connection, we take contradictory actions. We don’t talk to our partners about how we feel, what’s bothering us, or what we want from them. For a lasting relationship, engage with the uncomfortable parts of being vulnerable and honest with your partner. Be willing to share those things that are bothering you. Be willing to work through roadblocks—your partner isn’t a mind reader.
2. "I promise to listen and be there for you without judgment."
Not every comment or story that’s shared requires a response, solution, or action. You can simply listen attentively and be present. You can promise to hear without making judgments and comparisons or turning what your partner is saying into something about you. Disengage with the thoughts that your partner’s concerns raise and simply listen as a friend. Listen deeply and compassionately.
3. "I promise to let you be true to yourself and let go of expectations."
If you hold onto unrealistic expectations, you're going to be disappointed. If you hoped they would pick the vacation you wanted or opted to spend the holidays where you had hoped, you’re setting yourself up for heartache. Relationships are not about meeting unspoken expectations. Learn to let go of your desire to change your partner and welcome the person they are.
4. "I promise to have your back and support you always."
When your partner is going through challenges, they need you more than any other time. When they are dealing with a setback or being criticized by their families or at work, you’re especially needed. Make a promise to support your partner when life gets challenging. Promise to be on your partner’s side when no one else is. Promise to be there for them emotionally and spiritually when they are facing their biggest battles. Be your partner’s supporter and encourager.
5. "I promise to accept you unconditionally and forgive quickly."
At what point do we start thinking to ourselves that a particular quality is a deal-breaker? Stop looking for what doesn't work. Can we make a promise to accept the other person, flaws and all? While we're it, can we let go of grudges and hurt feelings quickly so we can move forward together?
6. "I promise to empower you and help you grow."
"Instead of lecturing at you, being cynical or negative, I promise to uplift you." Why not use the “no complaint” rule in your relationship and practice heavy doses of inspiration? Show respect and affirm each other. Encourage each other to do better. Don’t criticize or condemn your partner to get them to act a particular way. Instead, address issues that need to be addressed and empower your partner by having open and honest conversations with each other.
7. "I promise to love you and show you my appreciation."
A relationship is a moving, changing, growing entity. Not something that is to grow stale and be taken for granted. Life, careers, and kids often get in the way of cultivating and nurturing a relationship. To keep a relationship from falling apart, take an active role in nurturing it. Create time for connection and romance. Prioritize the relationship in your life and let your partner know how much you value them. Remind yourself what you’re grateful for and express your love openly. Let your partner know you love and appreciate them.