LOVE. We all want it, work hard to find it, and somehow, struggle with it once we do. I attribute this to the societal “happily ever after” rather than the “happy right now” mindset. When we build expectations into our relationships with family members, partners, or friends, we define it.

Do we truly LOVE another when we hold these individuals to a standard of what we think they should be or do…or is love present when we are able to stand in full acceptance of who another is, both good and bad, and still keep our hearts open to them?

There is no answer for any one person. We each have to find what love means for us, and how we need to experience it. This is part of our journey and part of what allows us each to express what is uniquely “us”. One thing is for certain. Love takes time, work, and forgiveness of others, as well as ourselves. To encourage a healthy and enduring relationship, here are some suggestions:

1. Make time for real conversations
Lives get busy and after children, work, bills, and dealing with the “ins” and “outs” of life, we tend to forget that passions, dreams, and unlived desires are still a part of our lives. When relationships are new, there is a focus on taking time to explore these, and the same should be true after committing to a mutual life that pushes time to discuss these things aside. Take time to stay emotionally connected and continue sharing your deeper thoughts, fears, and desires.

2. Fight Clean
Conflict happens and often the need to be right overtakes the ability to effectively resolve conflict. Remember that things which present a challenge in life are not nearly as defining as how you respond to them individually and as a couple. Don’t let the argument escalate into something larger than what is. Let go of your ego and the need to be right and find a middle ground.

3.Take responsibility and hold yourself accountable
Accountability isn’t built into our nature because nobody likes to accept the parts of themselves that need work. It’s easier to shift the focus elsewhere. If you are unfulfilled personally or within a relationship, look inside yourself for the answer. Nobody can give you happiness, though we can certainly ask others to be involved in helping us create it. Take time to ask yourself what you want …what you desire, and then ask for support if you need it to get there. If you are fulfilled and happy, the other person will be as well.

4.Pass on the Power play
When two people are not able to meet on common ground and share the balance of power within a relationship, there is often one person “in charge” and another yearning to be “heard”. When this lack of a voice within a relationship settles in, distance and resentment will too. Make sure to truly listen to one another with an open mind so that both parties feel acknowledged and stay committed to a shared experience.

Author's Bio: 

Odette Worrell is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and founder of Organic Soul. Odette's work encompasses supporting and empowering individuals to regain their physical health, improve the quality of their lives, and assisting others in reaching personal goals. Odette and Organic Soul offer newsletters, online health and self-growth classes, and one-on-one ad well a group health counseling sessions (privately and online).