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The 14 Rules of Long-Lasting Relationships

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Lovingcouple

Put Each Other First


I know a couple who decided to seize an opportunity to build themselves a house, and he took charge of the work. Half way through the process, she decided -- for entirely valid reasons I won't go into --- that she wasn't at all sure she wanted to live in it when it was complete. He, on the other hand, had put a great deal of effort into it and didn't want to waste it.

Now at this point, a lot of couples would have fallen out badly, but not these two. What was their approach? He said that if she really didn't want to live there, they wouldn't. Meanwhile she took the approach that as he'd put in so much work, she would at least live there for a year or so and then they could sell if she really hated it. So that was their compromise: they'd try it for a while and reconsider if it really wasn't working for her.

The reason they managed to reach this entirely amicable agreement was quite simply because they were both putting the other one before themselves. To do that, of course, they had to really listen to each other and consider the other one's viewpoint. They both had to want the other one to be happy even more than themselves. To put it another way, neither of them could be happy if their partner weren't.

This is absolutely essential to a good, strong relationship. I can't think of a really happy relationship I've ever witnessed where both partners didn't operate this way. You have to put your partner's happiness before your own, you have to be unselfish, you have to put yourself second--otherwise you will have arguments and a stalemate.

Next: Recognize the Signs

More on: Marriage and Divorce

From The Rules of Love Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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