The Rules of Love, by Richard Templar, talks of 14 guidelines to follow if you want your relationship to last. Magdel Louw takes a look at his advice
You’ve had a really long day, so when you get home, you’re not in the best of moods. Who do you then take it out on? Your partner, of course. According to counsellor Brenda McCutcheon, being civil, courteous and respectful towards each other should always be the golden rule for both partners.
Debra Oldfield, who’s also a counsellor, explains this includes communicating through actions. ‘Fix them something to drink, pay them a compliment or just help to unpack the groceries – even if it’s not “your job”.’
2 Let them be themselves
After being in a relationship for a while, couples occasionally settle down into couple personalities, and lose sight of the fact that they are also separate people, with separate interests. Therefore, you both need some time to do your own thing. That way, you also have something fresh to bring into your conversations.
3 Look to your own failings
We are often quick to point out our partner’s faults. What we do not like to do, is admit to faults we bring to the relationship. Yet it has to go both ways. Either we have to accept them as they are or do something about our own faults. ‘Here the biblical analogy is very apt – take the log out of your own eye first in order to see in the splinter in your partner’s,’ says Brenda.
4 Be honourable
Always act with thoughtfulness, compassion and integrity. ‘Only then can you reasonably expect the same honourable behaviour from your partner,’ says Brenda.
5 Put each other first
This is key. You have to place your partner’s happiness before your own and be unselfish – or it will just end up in arguments and a stalemate.
6 Recognise the signs
There are many different ways to show someone you love them. Think back to the last time your partner went to the pharmacy for you when you were ill, or made a phone call for you because you didn’t have the energy. ‘I suggest learning about your partner’s love languages, as we all show love in different ways,’ says Brenda. Not only will your partner feel like their love is appreciated, but you will also feel more secure once you see that every cup of coffee is just another form of saying ‘I love you’.
7 Be the first to say ‘sorry’
Apologising for an argument or a disagreement is not about losing face – it’s really about what saying ‘sorry’ communicates to your partner. Debra explains: ‘It tells them you care about them, and that you can admit to and be responsible for your mistakes.’ It takes two to argue, so say you are sorry and try to say it before they do.
8 Don’t be their parent
Your partner is an independent person who doesn’t need anyone else to run their life. That does not mean never expressing an opinion, but there is no need to tell them what they should do. Express it as your point of view, and not as an instruction. ‘Respecting each other is about accepting the person for who they are – not going into the relationship hoping to change the other person,’ says Debra.
9 If little things annoy you, say so – with humour
You find it hard to be tolerant of the little things that irritate you. So it’s better to let your partner know how you feel than to get more and more vexed. But always use humour to let your partner know what bugs you. ‘You need to look at what it is that annoys you. Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ says Brenda.
10 Jealousy is your stuff, not theirs
Jealousy has to be one of the most corrosive and dangerous things in a relationship. When the object of suspicion is innocent, they feel angry and resentful for not being trusted, and rightly so. Always remember this: it’s you who needs to address your jealousy.
Brenda says the first step is being honest with yourself. ‘Where does it stem from? At its root, there’s lack of trust. You may even need external intervention to deal with it. Don’t try to pretend it doesn’t matter. Deal with it now.’
11 Make time for love
You can’t expect the fun and excitement in your relationship to last if you have abandoned the romance. ‘Having time together will keep the two of you connected and involved with one another. Why not treat yourselves to a weekly date night? Physical touch – kissing and holding hands – also does much to keep the spark alive,’ says Debra.
12 Share the workload
Put equal amounts of time and effort into running your lives. So no lounging around while your partner gets the dinner ready, and no sleeping in every morning while they get the kids ready for school. ‘The best help is that which is offered, which is a lot better than asking for something to be done continuously until you eventually do it yourself,’ explains Debra.
13 Keep your finances separate
A joint bank account that you use for shared things is great, but beyond that, your money is your own. This way, if your partner wants to blow their savings on something you consider ostensibly wasteful, it doesn’t affect you. ‘It comes down to what works for you as a couple. Draw up a budget with all family expenses and work from it. Try to minimise any arguments that may spring from this. Never allow your finances to get in the way of your relationship,’ says Brenda.
14 Contentment is a high aim
We all know the heightened emotional state of being in love doesn’t last forever. But what you can end up with, if all goes really well, is contentment. It’s not about fireworks and butterflies and weak knees. It means you’re truly in love in the best sense, and the first flush is replaced by something far more fulfilling. ‘As we grow, our dreams and desires will certainly change. Never forget to share these with your partner. And never lose sight of each other as your soulmate,’ says Brenda.