After years of heartache and toxic relationships, I finally sat down with my mom and asked her to share the secrets she had for keeping a lasting relationship and loving marriage with my father. In this conversation, she shared 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship that was exactly what I needed to hear, so I thought I would share them.
I used to think that she couldn’t give me advice because she never knew what it was like to be single nowadays or to have a baby-daddy, ex-husband, or ex-boyfriend for that matter. I have long viewed dating as a game of Russian Roulette. You pick someone who appears to be safe, compliments your best qualities while minimizing your worst qualities, understands your, and appears to be interested, and maybe you might fall in love together, or only you or them will fall in love, but either way, the dating game is risky.
The reality is, most of us don’t even know how to have a healthy relationship, get through the tough stuff as a team, and emerge stronger. We have been conditioned to tell ourselves if it is too tough, I’ll just trade in the person and go back to the dating apps to find my next possible dream girl or guy. While that seems like a fabulous idea, freeing you from being committed to someone, you are most likely going to get hurt badly or close off emotionally and really miss the opportunity for real love. Regardless, this is a far more complicated way to love. So before I share the advice my mom gave me, let me share a little back story on my parents.
My Parents Love Story
My parents met each other in high school. They dated for a while and in 1985, they found out they were having my brother, which is when they decided to get married. They didn’t have 100% support from their parents, but the unplanned pregnancy was happening, and they knew they wanted the child and each other. In 1987, I came along, followed by another boy in 1988. My dad worked a lot of hours to provide for our growing family, and eventually, so did my mom.
In 1992, they had another son, and in 1994 came another daughter. My mom and dad worked hard to make sure we always had what we needed and they unknowingly built up the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship. They never fought in front of us from what I can remember. Additionally, they were consistent in how they parented all of us, and they had plans extending deep into the future for and with all of us.
It was never perfect, they were young and often didn’t do everything that they might have done if they were older, but as of today, they are still married with 6 grandchildren and have amassed an empire together. My parents are the love story that I, and almost anyone, would hope for, therefore, the advice my mom gave me will stay with me in my future relationships. Without further ado, here are the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship that my mom shared, backed by research.
6 Core Foundations for a Lasting Long-Term Relationship
During this conversation with my mom, she provided me with her personal views of what she believed the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship are. Furthermore, I did some research and found that what she said has tons of credible sources to back it up. Here are the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship things she shared.
1 – Mutual Respect
As stated in many articles throughout the internet, respect is the first of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship. Research has its thoughts, but my mom adds to it with her own thoughts. Here is the research on respect, followed by my mom’s words of wisdom and experience.
Research on Respect
I found two articles that mention respect as a valuable foundation in a lasting relationship. An article entitled, “7 Building Blocks of a Great Relationship,” written by Dr. Abigail Brenner for Psychology Today, lists respect as having:
A deep reverence for someone or something. And certainly, those with whom we are most intimate deserve this, as do we.Dr. Abigail Brenner, 7 Building Bocks of a Great Relationship
Dr. Brenner explains her ideas of respect in a very thoughtful and common-sense manner, sharing in a short paragraph that this is one necessary building block for having a great relationship.
In another article by Mark Manson, titled, “3 Core Components of a Healthy Relationship,” he discusses respect in a very clever way, avoiding any beating around the bush. He makes a point to mention that identity level changes can occur, and as a result, could cause respect to dissipate. My favorite comment is where he says:
The point is that any respect that was lost in the transformation of one person must be made up in some way or another.Mark Manson, 3 Core Components of a Healthy Relationship
Mark Manson is very blunt about respect and offers some great male/female perspectives to consider. I highly recommend this article.
The Words of My Mom on Respect
Similar to Mark Manson and Dr. Abigail Brenner, my mom also mentions respect in the same sort of way but also has a different way of identifying respect. To my mom, respect additionally includes you and your partner respecting the boundaries you both need and want in the relationship and being careful with the things you say to one another. One example she mentioned was how you can say something in the heat of an argument or passionate conversation, then later apologize for the thing you say, but it doesn’t end there. In apologizing, you cleared the feelings within yourself, but the words haven’t left the other person.
She said it is so important to be careful with your words because words can have a lasting effect on another person, especially the person you are intimate with, and sorry simply isn’t always enough. Having respect in a relationship means taking the time to consider your partner, take time to choose your words, actions, and deeds even when you are angry, make sure they reflect your true sentiment. In order to build up the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, be mindful of your words and always show respect for your partner.
2 – Patience
Patience seems like an easy one, but according to my mom and the research I have done, it isn’t as easy today as it was when it was expected on a societal level. Nonetheless, patience is one of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship. Here is the research, then the words of experience from my mom.
Research on Patience
I found a lot of great articles on the topic of 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, but very few of these articles mention only patience alone as a core foundation. I was surprised how many of them bulked the topic into respect when in fact, patience is an element that I would believe to be a topic in and of itself. One article I found and loved was, “7 Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship,” written by Rebecca Lammersen for the Huff Post. One eye-catching statement Lammersen wrote was this;
I have concluded that love is undefinable. Although I do know one thing I am absolutely sure of, and that is love is a choice.“7 Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship,” written by Rebecca Lammersen for the Huff Post
Lammersens thoughtful words on patience are to understand that no one belongs to anyone else. She illustrates how patience, at its core, is about how causing pressure can cause someone to feel unsafe, unloved, and not able to provide love adequately. Her advice in regards to patience is to give a person their space, that love is not something to be rushed. What I wouldn’t give to have known this truth in past relationships.
Another article I found that helps explain why patience is one of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, is the article, “Sometimes It’s Patience, Not Love, That Runs Out,” by Exploring Your Mind. In this direct, but informative article, the author writes:
We are patient, and we respect and tolerate because we also love. We also know that within every relationship, it takes time for things to be reconciled, for everything to be accepted, and the needs of each person to be understood.“Sometimes It’s Patience, Not Love, That Runs Out,” by Exploring Your Mind
The author continues this sentiment by mentioning the importance of knowing where the limits of our individual patience are, especially knowing where being patient must begin and where it must end. Additionally, when we become aware of the positive and negatives, the author mentions this isn’t when we end the relationship, this is when the couple does not avoid what is happening, but rather they come together to state their needs and feelings. Having the patience to understand a solution can take time.
After the last relationship I had, I learned so much about the limits of my own patience. That is why the best quote I can share from this article, which I highly recommend to anyone in a tough spot with their own relationship, is this:
In the end, for a relationship to prosper and heal itself from that which it lacked or was harmful, both partners must put in the the effort to fix it. The moment that one person offers more than the other, and the other only gives excuses, patience comes to an end and disappointment becomes a bottomless abyss.“Sometimes It’s Patience, Not Love, That Runs Out,” by Exploring Your Mind
The Words of My Mom on Patience
Much like Lammersen’s explanation, my mom mentions patience pretty similarly. She added that patience is learned in time by understanding that your partner is who they are, and you are who you are, and there will be times where you will test each other’s patience. She says that in order to stay together in a meaningful and healthy way, you must learn to be patient and accepting of where someone is before pushing or forcing an agenda. As with all relationships, patience is a virtue and should be considered first and foremost in your primary relationship.
One example my mom mentioned was how she and my father have always viewed the world in such a different way from one another. This caused her to lose patience with him at times, and vice-versa, but they learned through the hard times to be patient and not judge each other for where the other might be coming from. Upbringing has a lot to do with this. My mom always said to me in her advice on dating, “find someone who comes from the same or similar background as you, because it will make it easier to have patience and respect for each other and you will have similar goals in life.”
Patience is the second of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship because it shows us how important it is to allow others to be whomever they need to be without feeling like we have to change them. When we are waiting to fall in love, we are patiently waiting for the right person. Once we give in and fall deeply in love with someone, it’s like we forget that patience is a key ingredient. So while patience is often coupled with respect, remember that it too is one of the 6 core foundations of a lasting long-term relationship because, without it, respect cannot exist.
3 – Healing from the Last Hurt
Many people will jump steadfast into another relationship without properly healing the pain, trauma, and/or heartache of their last relationship. This is why the third of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship is to heal the past before toxically pursuing a new person.
Research on Healing from the Last Hurt
Most research is pretty consistent in the belief that there is no magic time frame in which moving on to a new relationship is a good idea, but there is some great advice to consider. An article published on Elite Daily, entitled, “Experts Reveal How Long You Need To Heal Before Jumping Into A New Relationship,” written by Christina Pina, discusses some advice that I find to be very valuable in deciding when you are truly ready. Pina shares a quote by Elle Huerta, CEO, and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend, where Huerta recommends asking yourself a few questions before dating again, including:
Have you been able to reflect on what you learned in your last relationship, and what you want in your next one? Is the driving force behind this new relationship more fear-based (loneliness, insecurity) or is it that you’re genuinely interested in this new person?Elite Daily, “Experts Reveal How Long You Need To Heal Before Jumping Into A New Relationship,” written by Christina Pina
Experts interviewed by Pina in this article are careful to state that if you are still in emotional pain or struggling from the previous relationship, that taking the time you need to heal is extremely vital. Healing is one of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship because healing shows effort and effort is necessary to make love happen in a healthy and meaningful way.
Additionally, Kathryn Mitchem writes a wonderful article for Mind Body Green, called, “4 Things To Do Before Starting A New Relationship After A Breakup Or Divorce.” In this article, she discusses how six weeks after her marriage ended, she found herself getting caught up with a 20-something-year-old to distract herself from the disaster she felt her life had become. She was now a 40-year-old single mom of three kids. Her advice about healing from the hurt is so well written, I highly recommend reading this article.
Mitchem states in her article:
The grieving process involved in getting over a breakup can be lengthy and painful. But there is so much necessary growth waiting for you in the time after a breakup. You can’t skip the hard part and go right to Phase 2. This is the task you have to complete before leveling up.
Until you truly commit to the work of self-love that’s required after the devastation of heartbreak, you’re not a contender for a long-term commitment.“4 Things To Do Before Starting A New Relationship After A Breakup Or Divorce,” Kathryn Mitchem
It’s a lengthy quote, but it is a hard-hitting truth in moving on after a painful breakup. She also states the importance of taking the time to learn what a healthy relationship actually looks like. At its root, 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship are useless without getting to know yourself as an individual who is capable of self-love and self-respect.
The Words of My Mom on Healing from Past Hurts
When I asked my mom for advice, she told me not to get into a committed relationship until I knew I could pass my most recent ex, or any of my past exes, on the street or at a restaurant and be cordial. She told me if I am still angry, hurt, sad, or hopeful, I would be bringing my ex to bed with any new guy I meet. The idea of this made me cringe. I don’t want to be intimate with a new guy and have my ex hanging in the sheets with my new guy reminding me of the rejection, abandonment, and disrespect I felt when our relationship ended.
While she didn’t have to go through this personally, she has seen many of her friends, and her children, go in and out of relationships without really taking the time to heal. She noticed that because of this seemingly simple concept, the next relationship the person embarked on ended up in the same crash and burn as the last one. Healing is a necessary foundation in the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship because no one should have to experience the discomfort of falling for someone who is rebounding or isn’t quite right.
4 – Notice The Details of Your Partner
I loved this advice, and it is one bit of advice I wish I would have fully understood in my last relationship. It might have helped me avoid getting hurt altogether. Noticing someone’s details is one of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship because it helps someone to tether their affections, respect, and patience to someone else. Here is what my research and my mom shared about noticing someone’s details.
Research on Noticing Someone Elses Details
In an article I read by Jamie Varon, published on Medium, entitled, “How to Keep Loving Someone,” Varon discusses the importance of holding onto the moments before you were fighting over trivial things like who will do the dishes. She states:
It’s easy to fall in love with someone, to bask in newly-minted intimacy and lose yourself in the romance. It’s easy to start a love. It’s the staying part. The keeping part. The difficulty comes in the life plus love part, when you’re trying to squish two people together to make a unit.“How to Keep Loving Someone,” Jamie Varon
I wrote an article about the difference between being in love and loving someone, entitled, “How to Love Someone Unconditionally.” I wrote and published this blog when my ex and I were having a hard time reconnecting with each other after a series of bad arguments, just before we parted ways. My friends and family were watching me use an infinite amount of patience and hope to try to be empathetic to the way this man’s actions were making me feel.
In a nutshell, there is a difference between the passion and dedication of being in love, and the lasting effect of weathering the storms together and knowing that this person is who you want to see by your side in any situations life will throw your way. When I noticed his details, like the casual, adorable laugh he had when something made him truly giggle, or how he would engulf me in his arms before drifting away to sleep so I knew I was safe. It is what I held onto when the times got tough, and the conflict felt endless. This is why noticing details is huge in establishing the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship.
The Words of my Mom on Noticing Someone Elses Details
In our talks about the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, my mom shared that loving your partner means noticing every single one of their details. She said that while you sit down watching your partner, focus on them as if they are your child. When your child makes a mistake, they can anger you, but you still love them and understand that they are only human. Why not treat your partner the same?
She mentioned that just as loving your kids can sometimes hurt, you still do it nonetheless, and this is a key to loving your partner. Notice the details of how they do things so differently from you, and have patience and extend respect for those differences as you love them for the person they are. She told me that sometimes she watches my father do something and notices how he focuses on the task. Even when he makes a mistake, she looks at him in awe, because he is simply amazing to her. In noticing his details, she can be more compassionate and less judgemental of the little nuances that may otherwise bother her in someone else.
5 – Appreciation
Appreciation of your partner is the fifth of the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship because to appreciate something means you acknowledge and enjoy all that is someone else. The definition of appreciation per Google is:
recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
In a relationship, appreciation seems to be the glue that keeps you together because it is the ultimate form of respect and loyalty. Let’s see what research has to say and then I will share what my mom said in our chat.
Research on Appreciation in Relationships
While reading a post on Greater Good Magazine, written by Amie Gordon, entitled, “Gratitude is for Lovers,” I learned some valuable things about the relationship between appreciation and love. Gordon expresses that gratitude is not just saying thank you, but is about appreciating your partner for who they are rather than only what they do. In looking at gratitude and appreciation, it was found that couples who displayed more gratitude for their partners, were even more committed to their partner 9 months later and held on to their relationships.
In this post, Gordon goes on to share a few research studies but ends her post with a great tip. She writes:
Our research tries to identify the factors that sustain healthy relationships that may be experiencing a bump in the road. Gratitude is good if the relationship is good.
There are, however, some relationships that people should not try to hold onto, as when there is physical or emotional abuse. Looking for moments of gratitude in unhealthy relationships may encourage people to stay in relationships they should be ending.“Gratitude is for Lovers,” by Amie Gordon
In another article written by Mallini Bhatia for Huff Post, titled, “The Importance of Appreciation in a Relationship,” Bhatia discusses the 3 A’s in any healthy relationship, where appreciation is one of the three. Bhatia mentions how important appreciation is by stating:
The problems start when we don’t even notice how we slipped into the habit of taking each other for granted and stopped caring for, and appreciating each other. This leads to other problems – arguments, frustration, resentment and suddenly we begin to wonder if this relationship is meant to work out.“The Importance of Appreciation in a Relationship,” Mallini Bhatia
Her post digs into how appreciation is the key to successful relationships because it makes someone feel good about themselves when they are appreciated. She even discusses how to tell that your partner doesn’t feel appreciated. In order to really manifest the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, appreciation is a huge way to show your partner that you are invested in them.
The Words of my Mom on Appreciation
During the conversation with my mom, she mentioned how she appreciated my father for his differences, including his perspectives on the world which sometimes differ from her own. She learned over time to appreciate the similarities as well as the differences between them to truly look at my father for who he is, and appreciate and fall in love with him over and over.
It is very easy to find fault and flaws in anyone if you look hard enough, it’s finding the special things, the qualities that you fell in love with at the beginning that are an important part of truly creating appreciation. In doing so, they have stayed together for over 30 years and continue to enjoy each other as best friends and partners in life. Appreciation to my mom is never trying to change who my father is, but rather, to embrace who he is with admiration, gratitude, and respect.
6 – Loyalty
To me, it seemed like common sense that loyalty would appear on a list of 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship, but not in the way I would have understood loyalty. Let’s review what research has to say about loyalty, then I will share what my mom said to me.
Research on Loyalty
First, I want to share an article by Gabrielle Seunagal, entitled, “What Does Loyalty In Relationships Look Like?,” published on Regain. Seunagal mentions the importance of communicating what loyalty looks like to you and your partner. In not discussing the clear definition of loyalty, the door is open to problems.
One example Seunagal gives on loyalty, aside from the obvious of not sleeping with someone else, is this:
Being open with your significant other and not hiding parts of who you are are immense parts of loyalty in relationships. Healthy relationships and bonds are fostered when both parties truly know one another as individuals. This means sharing your thoughts and feelings; loyalty involves the willingness to let your guard down with your partner in ways that you might not do with other people.“What Does Loyalty In Relationships Look Like?,” Gabrielle Seunagal
Additionally, the article shows that being patient in tough times, defending your significant other, and not badmouthing them are other examples of loyalty. This is why loyalty is so important in developing the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship.
In another article by Sylvia Smith, written for Marriage.com, entitled, “What Is Loyalty in Relationships?,” Smith discusses another type of loyalty which is follow-through, or keeping promises.
Another key method of building loyalty is to follow through or remain loyal to your promises. This is pretty simple. If you tell your partner, you are going to do something. You should follow through with this commitment. This builds trust and shows that you are committed.“What Is Loyalty in Relationships?,” Sylvia Smith
In this article, Smith discusses so much about loyalty, I do highly recommend this quick read. Loyalty is a lot more valuable to attaining all 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship than I initially realized.
The Words of My Mom on Loyalty
To my mom, loyalty isn’t just about physical cheating, but more hurtful than physical cheating is an affair of the heart. With so much access to social media, it can be too easy to develop texting or email relationships with someone other than your spouse. I have seen this quite a bit. “My husband or wife doesn’t get me but this person truly understands me…” This is much more damaging in that it causes someone to feel as though they aren’t valued, appreciated, or respected in the relationship.
Turn off your phones, computers, TVs and just have a conversation. Tell your significant other your thoughts, hopes, and dreams, give them the chance to be there for you, and in turn be there for them. Additionally, my mom mentioned that when you are in a serious relationship, especially in a new relationship, having single friends of the opposite sex is not only disrespectful but can be misunderstood and cause hurt feelings. The need to hang out with friends of the opposite sex when your significant other isn’t present is usually a sign of a lack of respect for your partner and the life you are building together. Like any rule, there are exceptions, but it usually stands true.
I couldn’t believe how both the research I did, and the words of experience from my mom, were in alignment about the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship. Mutual respect, patience, healing from the past, noticing your partner’s details, appreciation and loyalty seem to be some rich ingredients in having a truly meaningful, healthy, and happy relationship with your partner.
If you are in love, it wouldn’t hurt to look at these foundations to build a stronger connection with your partner. If you are looking for love, it can’t hurt to try building the 6 core foundations for a lasting long-term relationship with the partner you find. As a psychology student, I highly recommend finding a good therapist if you keep falling in love with the wrong person and finding yourself lost repeatedly. To build a lasting relationship, two mentally and emotionally healthy people must be ready to give it their best.
- 7 Building Blocks of a Great Relationship – Psychology Today
- 3 Core Components of a Healthy Relationship – Mark Manson
- 7 Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship – HuffPost
- Sometimes It’s Patience, Not Love, that Runs Out – ExploringYourMind
- Experts Reveal How Long You Need To Heal Before Jumping Into A New Relationship – Christy Pina
- 4 Things To Do Before Starting A New Relationship After A Breakup Or Divorce – mbgrelationships
- How to Keep Loving Someone – Jamie Varon
- Gratitude is for Lovers – Greater Good Magazine
- The Importance of Appreciation in a Relationship – HuffPost
- What Does Loyalty In Relationships Look Like? – Regain
- What Is Loyalty in Relationships? – Marriage.com