Updated: Jun 7, 2020
It’s a common concern among most humans.
How do you make a relationship last?
How do you make a job last?
How do you make your life last?
And for that matter, how do you make anything last?
The answer is quite simple, actually. You make things last because you don’t stop doing it!
Don’t stop working. Don’t stop living. Seems so obvious, right? Yet, for some reason, it’s not. Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to grasp. Clearly, this question isn’t what it seems.
But what about those things that really shouldn’t last?
Think about it. Would you want a bad job to last? Do you really want a bad relationship to last?
Are you sadistic? Or are you a masochist? What would be the point of staying in a job—or a relationship—that you are not happy with?
Relationships are not one-sided. Therefore, it isn’t entirely up to you. For example, why would you want to stay if the other party wants to go?
A wise man once said that “You should never give up a happy middle in the hope of a happy ending.” (John Green, Let it Snow)
True words, those. It’s something that has never made any sense to me.
Why do people always focus on the end?
Why do they suddenly get interested after the fact? Why can’t people simply focus on the beginning or the middle? Why is it that we are so consumed with the ending of things?
Who among us really wants the good times to end?
Here are some of my favorite thoughts (paraphrased) about exiting gracefully:
“The decision to let go means leaving behind what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives.” – Ellen Goodman
“It is always important to know when something has reached its end.” – Paulo Coehlo, The Zahir
These statements exemplify the thought that once you finally accept that what you are doing isn't working, it is time to do something different.
The question itself—how can I make my relationship last?—is counterintuitive. If both partners are happy in the relationship, it will continue. If one or both of you are unhappy, you need to either do something different or move on.
Before you start asking yourself how to make your relationship last, you should really be focusing on how to choose a good relationship, not “the one” relationship. You see, relationships are not a “one and only” or a “one and done” situation.
Instead, you should be asking: “how do I maintain my relationship once I have chosen it?” or maybe: “how do I know if/when and how to end a relationship so I can move on?”
Reality check: riding off into the sunset is the ending, not the beginning.
Living in the now: planning for relationship success
All of those fairy tales of yore claim to have a happy ending. But what about the beginning and the middle?
Orson Welles once said that having a happy ending depends on where you stop your story. You see where I’m going with this?
Many wise men, Confucius and Benjamin Franklin among them, offered that success depends on preparation, without which, there is sure to be failure.
A failure to plan is planning to fail.
As humans living our lives in the world, we plan all sorts of things. We plan when we get up in the morning, whether we are going to exercise today, what to wear, what to eat … so why not plan our relationships the same way?
Why would you wait until there are issues or trouble to do something about it? It cost a lot less, both in time and effort, to be active rather than passive in your relationships.
Think about it. The time spent having your spare tire checked will more than compensate for the headaches of getting a flat tire.
We make sound decisions on a daily basis based on logic like this. So, why don’t we apply the same principles to our relationships? Are we too afraid of making a mistake?
This begs the question: isn’t it a bigger mistake to basically “wing it” and to be disengaged in the first place?
How can you make the claim that you are “in” a relationship if you are “checked out” – in other words, not invested, not looking, and not planning ahead?
The other issue with this question is those two little words “you make”.
Firstly, keep in mind that you are not the only person in your relationship. Taken in that context, these decisions are not entirely up to you. In effect, this attitude screams of disrespect for the other person.
Relationships are “us” or “we”, they are not “you” or “me”.
Secondly, you can’t “make” anything like this happen. You can’t force it. It isn’t a question of “your will” – it is about mutual desire.
The entire point of relationships is collaboration. Being together and not being apart. Being united and not separated.
Knowing this, the answer to the question is an easy one. How do you make a relationship last?
Well, start with a good relationship in the first place. After all, who wants a bad relationship to last?
Lasting Relationships Challenge
This week’s challenge is for you to review and evaluate some of your own relationships, both past, and present.
Did you know at the time what to expect from your relationship? If not, why not? Were you coasting through your relationship? were you just winging it? were you taking it for granted? Perhaps it was the other person who was doing those things.
Then, ask yourself “why”. Why were you/they not fully engaged or invested in the relationship?
If you could go back, what would you have done or wanted to do differently?
Don’t forget to let me know what you find – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships
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