Making a Relationship Work in the Long Term

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How to Not Die Alone" by Logan Ury. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What do you think is the most important factor for a successful long-term relationship? How do you ensure that your partnership stays strong through the rough patches?

If you believe a long-term relationship’s success hinges on whom you date rather than how, you are in for disillusionment. Even the most compatible couples go through rough patches. Successful long-term dating is all about how you navigate them.

With this in mind, here are two tips for making a relationship work in the long term.

How to Make a Relationship Work

The key to making a relationship work in the long term is to build a relationship that can grow with both partners. She explains that most people recognize that they’ve changed a lot in the past, but they don’t expect to change a lot in the future. But in reality, you (and your partner) will probably change just as much in the future as you did in the past. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that your relationship evolves, too.

(Shortform note: Remember that you’re trying to build a relationship that will evolve as you (and your partner) inevitably change—but don’t try to change your partner. Experts warn that trying to change the person you love is a recipe for disaster: It breeds resentment both from the person who is reluctantly being forced to change and the person upset that their partner isn’t changing in the way they desire. Instead, work on accepting your partner at all stages of their life by focusing on their positive qualities.) 

Ury recommends two techniques for ensuring that your relationship adapts to your changing needs as the years go by.

1. Write a Relationship Agreement

In this agreement, articulate your relationship values and how you’ll express them. Revisit this agreement regularly at intervals that work for you—whether that’s yearly or biannually—to review and update it as needed. By doing so, you’ll deal with potential issues early instead of letting them fester and damage your relationship long-term.

For example, if you value time together, you might initially write that you’ll spend 12 hours one-on-one each week. Once you have kids, you may realize that you regularly only spend 30 minutes together one-on-one and work on adding more couple time to your lives. By doing so, you maintain your connection instead of growing slowly distant and thus unhappy. 

2. Scheduling a Recurring, Weekly State-of-the-Union Meeting

This meeting is a safe space in which you can communicate things with your partner that might be otherwise uncomfortable or brushed aside. By doing so, you maintain your bond and ensure that small problems don’t blow up into bigger issues because you haven’t dealt with them.

For example, you can express early on that you feel unappreciated when your partner doesn’t pitch in with household duties, instead of letting that disappointment sit without communicating it and feeling unappreciated by your partner in general. It’s critical that you actually schedule this ritual—if it’s already on your calendar and you don’t have to set up a time every week, you’re far more likely to have the meeting. 

How to Have a Marriage Meeting 

If you’d like more structure in your weekly meeting, consider following the structure of a “marriage meeting.” This is also a weekly meeting designed to keep you and your partner bonded as you evolve, but it has a few key differences. Notably, it occurs not just at a specific time but has a specific duration: 15-20 minutes is enough to discuss every topic but short enough to keep you focused. 

Also, in a marriage meeting, you follow a set order. Start by expressing appreciation to each other to set a positive tone. Then, move on to logistics, such as deciding how to divide specific chores. You should then make fun plans to ensure that you’re both happy—with each other and your own lives. Once you’re in a good mood, discuss any issues in the relationship; your positive mindsets will make the conversation easier.
Making a Relationship Work in the Long Term

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Logan Ury's "How to Not Die Alone" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full How to Not Die Alone summary:

  • A science-backed approach for finding the true love you’ve always wanted
  • How your patterns may be sabotaging your quest for true love
  • How to effectively navigate the twists and turns of a relationship

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *