I read somewhere the right person always comes into your life at the wrong time. In my experiences, this is very accurate. I think this happens because we don’t truly appreciate something when it’s handed to us. Most people feel more possessive of what we’ve worked for, be it a goal, item or person’s affection.

We’ve all had dreams. You might have wanted to be a fireman, school teacher, doctor or business person who makes so much money you could buy anything your heart desired and crush anyone in your path. Whatever your dream is, the way you get to the end result is to set goals. Your dream is the long-term goal but a lot needs to happen before you get there. Inevitably along the way, you will be smitten with someone.

You might decide to focus on the end game and pass on taking on anything which could distract you from your goal. Or you may decide to take a chance and give the relationship a shot. Deciding to accept another person into your life will immediately split up your free time and focus. Below are essential things you’ll need to do if you want the relationship to last after the new relationship feeling wears off.

Take your relationship seriously.

Making your relationship a priority is important. When you are focused on chasing dreams, it’s easy to put blinders on and give everything else the minimum amount of attention needed. Minimum attention might work here and there once you have an established relationship, but you need a great foundation first.

When you are a couple of months into a relationship, you start to slack off and fall back into your old habits and routines. Slacking off at this point is a mistake if you want to keep the relationship going. Showing effort to talk and share company can go a long way.

Listening to your partner is a must.

Listening means more than hearing words. Aside from small talk, people tell you things because they want you to know about their life. They want to involve you. Sure what they are saying can be mind-numbingly boring to you, but they are telling you for a reason. Try to be part of the conversation instead of just a pair of ears to talk at.

Asking a few questions about what they are talking about can give you insight into the way they think and why they react to things the way they do. You might not know your new boyfriend lets out a girlish shriek when he sees a ladybug due to trauma caused by his older brother when they were kids. Listening to his story about how he was driving to work and had to screech the car to a halt because there was a bug in the car might clue you in. Asking about the incident might help you know him better.

Set relationship goals like you did for your dreams.

Goals in a relationship might seem a little bit out of place to some. However, knowing if your partner wants kids, marriage, to travel the world or all of the above is very advantageous to the relationship. When the two of you aren’t on the same path and there isn’t a middle ground, consider calling it quits. A relationship is a collaboration of your lives to make one happy life for two people.

Goals aren’t always marriage, travel and stuff like that. Relationship goals can be financial goals such as getting out of debt, moving in together or how to be involved in a child’s life when one of you is a single parent. Remember, not all of your goals need to be lofty; they are meant to be something to work toward together.

Take a deep breath, think and respond to loved ones.

Stress can take its toll on a relationship. When one or both of you is overwhelmed, you can easily take out your frustration on the other. When you feel overwhelmed, remember your better half is there for you. When you belittle and take out your frustrations on him or her, he or she is not the cause of your frustration.

When things aren’t going your way, try taking a deep breath, relax and talk with your partner. Having a civilized talk will accomplish a couple of things for you and your relationship. While talking about your situation out loud to someone else, you could come up with a solution. It works for the people on Wheel of Fortune doesn’t it?

Talking it over with your partner will help him or her feel a part of the relationship. He or she will appreciate you valuing him or her enough to involve him or her. If you try to do everything yourself, the other person in the relationship can wonder where to fit into your life.

Little things add up and make a big difference.

Little things are just that, little. Making it a habit to pay attention to the person you choose to be in a relationship with will go a long way. Here’s an example: If your girlfriend asks you to go to an antique store and points out a beat up kid’s rocking chair she really likes, you might not see it as anything more than something you’re going to kick in the dark on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. However, if you were to go back and buy it for her, she will see it in a couple of ways.

She will see you didn’t just zone out when she took you to a place she likes. She will also see you listened to her and why she liked the rocking chair. A lot of times it’s the gesture more than the actual action that counts. The saying about it’s the thought that counts applies here. When she says, “AWWWWW… you remembered I liked the chair because it’s like the one I had as a little girl!,” you did it right.

No matter how busy your schedule, make time for your partner.

Some people will disagree with me, but date nights work. The key is not to have the same dinner and a movie date every single time. Mix it up. One time you pick the activity and the next time let him. I have begrudgingly agreed to go places and do things I had no interest in but now I really look forward to those things.

When both of you have busy schedules, making the gesture to spend time with someone means that much more.

Talk to your partner in a way he or she understands.

I’m sure you know how differently men and women are when it comes to how they need to hear things. The same can be true for two people. When one of you is going to school for a masters degree in journalism, you will value some things differently when your husband is focusing on being the best step-dad he can.

Getting to know the person you share your days with will clue you into wording to use to describe your thoughts and actions. I don’t mean you should get to know how to sweet-talk, I mean you should know if he wants to know just the facts, if you need to beat around the bush and let him guess, if he likes it sugared up or if you need to use more layman’s terms to talk about your situation. When he can understand what the heck you are talking about, you will get a lot further and the conversation will be more productive.

Talking about what’s going on and what the other person’s focus is can seem like a time-suck and not necessary but it really is. If you aren’t talking to your partner, he or she can only assume what you’re doing based on past experiences. Speculation is rarely a good thing in a relationship. The more you play the “what if” game, the more misunderstandings you’ll have. Just talk it out.

While I talked mostly about a spouse, these apply to relationships with family and friends too. Any relationship can get stagnant and fizzle out if you don’t work at it. Every relationship is the result of the work both put into it.

Featured photo credit: chase-your-dreams via flickr.com

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