Television host (and our cover star), Daphne Oz, shares the secrets to maintaining a healthy relationship, in an excerpt from her book "Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun"
Relationships need a whole lot of care and attention and effort—and it's all worth it. I've been married for only three years, and I've already learned that while love feels like magic, being sprinkled with long-term pixie dust requires long-term investment and a healthy dose of fun.
Related: 6 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Intact
Paying the mortgage and deciding who takes the trash out is part of a relationship, of course, but you can't let responsibilities suck all the air out of the room. You and your partner fell for each other because you enjoyed spending time together, so make sure to keep a sense of play in the equation by planning date nights where you don't talk about taxes, cozy mornings during which nobody does the dishes, and the occasional bout of teasing, tickling, and otherwise goofing around. If you can see each other as friends always, the rest is bound to be fun.
Here are some fail-proof ways to keep the romance alive and kicking happily ever after!
Remember that little things count big time.
Getting flowers on my birthday is really nice. But when John brings me a bodega bouquet in the middle of July just because he thought of me and they were my color (blush pink!), that means the world. So show appreciation. Send sweet notes. Say thank you! Teach him how you want to be treated by treating him that way. What you do often is what you will do always, so practice like you play.
When you're together, give each other your full, undivided attention.
"We" time isn't "Wii" time. Put the phone down. Hide your iPad. You can't gaze lovingly into someone's eyes if you're reading emails and he's checking the scores.
Fight well, with honesty and kindness.
There's no place for mean in a healthful relationship. Arguments are normal. Fighting dirty is unacceptable. If an issue needs to be worked out, put down the boxing gloves, pick up the box of tissues, and show him where it hurts—nicely. And then listen to him, hear out his injuries (do not belittle them), and do your best to fix them without feeling attacked. Take off the armor and approach the situation with compassion and an ear for understanding. It takes practice, but you will both be much happier if you can learn to fight nicely.
Learn to compromise.
Being in a strong, loving relationship sometimes means doing things you don't want to do (or at least that wouldn't be your first choice), whether it's eating at a restaurant you don't love or choosing where to live based on someone else's career or needs. There's no formula to use, and sometimes it will feel like all the sacrifices are being made on your end (this is actually a psychological phenomenon—people always think they're doing the most work in a group project). The trick is to remember that your partner's happiness is as important as your own and that you should both be pursuing them equally. If your kindness and generosity are being taken advantage of, that's something to talk about. But try not to keep tabs—love is not tit for tat.
Have your own lives.
We want to be happy together, and so we learn to be happy apart. Happy couples work to find a balance between their independent lives and their lives together. Sometimes all I want is time alone with my husband. Other times, doing things solo is wonderful, because when we each have our own sense of happiness and fulfillment, we can share that with one another. Just because you're partners doesn't mean you have identical needs, wants, and likes. Having time apart gives you both a chance to fulfill those individual desires without feeling imposed on or resentful for being dragged along to the eightieth hockey game this year. Plus you'll have great stuff to share when you meet up for dinner. As long as you keep teaching each other, feeding your passions and cultivating your own interests keeps the love alive!
Want more tips from Daphne Oz? Check out her healthy meal ideas!
Reprinted with permission from Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun (William Morrow Hardcover) by Daphne Oz.