If you haven’t checked out my latest blog: “What I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Marriage (and How I Still Don’t Know Anything), check it out here. Happy anniversary to my Jadey: I love you, I respect you, I cherish you and you are my greatest teacher and best friend!
I emailed my readers, asking them to give me their #1 relationship lesson, and I literally received hundreds of responses. From women married 30+ years, to single women to engaged, divorced, younger, older, everyone gave me their best stuff, and I want to share some of them here. I wish I could share them all! But I thought I’d give a peek at the variety of responses I got, below! Enjoy :)
QUESTION: What’s the #1 lesson you’ve learned about relationships?
First, some personal insights from my closest family and friends:
“People change when it makes a difference for them. I’m paraphrasing from Fran Tarkenton’s book, ‘How to Motivate People,’ but I believe that is significantly important in both business and personal life.” ~My dad :)
“My #1 piece of relationship advice would be something along the lines of – notice how the relationships you have with others is a direct reflection of the relationship you have with yourself…particularly in the places you don’t want to look.” ~Jillian Teta, my sister-in-law (and one of my spiritual mentors!)
“Listen.” ~My mom :)
“The most important element to a healthy relationship is the commitment above all else to your personal growth and that of your partner’s. To me, relationships are mostly about helping each other realize your own fullest potential as individuals. To me, there are three people in every relationship who require the space, autonomy and support to grow and changer: you, your partner and the identity the two of you create together. Neglecting any one at the expense of the others will lead to problems. Be open to growth and change for all three. In fact, make it your singular goal.” ~Jade
“My lesson comes in the form of gratitude, I am awed and grateful to be loved and to love, it still surprises me and exhilarates me that I am loved and capable of loving back. I can soar with the thought that someone is interested in loving me, so lucky when it is mutual.” ~Joyce Teta, my mother-in-law
Next, from JillFit gals:
“When you say you’ll do something, do it. (This applies to all relationships–romantic, professional, friendships, family, etc.)” ~Michelle
“The thing that has worked best in my relationship was to understand my love language as well as my partner’s language. When I understand what satisfies my needs I seek it in my life and am able to verbalize when I need it. Understanding my husband’s language helps me give him what he needs rather than what I would need, which are two different things.” ~Rachel
“Honoring each other for who we are, communicating what we need, & trusting in honesty & truth with lots of love, hugs & kisses!” ~Claire
“Honesty is better than sugarcoated bullshit! That’s my #1 rule in all relationships!” ~Michelle
“Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. So corny but so true in so many things. I always like to reflect back to does “this” REALLY matter in the grand scheme of things and most of the time it does not. Makes relationships much easier!” ~Ink
“My # 1 best lesson when it comes to my relationship with my husband – give each other space! Don’t “hover and smother”. ~Debbie
“My number one lesson after 14.5 years of marriage is that EFFORTS that come with love should be EASY. Even if things get complicated, it should take no second thought to: speak your thoughts to that person, to do whatever it takes to push that person to better themselves, to let THEM help you. All of these EFFORTS should be second nature.” ~Natalie
“Don’t attempt to mold your significant other into anything and don’t romantically melt into each other and lose your sense of self. Evolve with each other!!” ~Jeidi
“#1 lesson/advice from me is: all genuine relationships, specifically a husband/wife relationship, not rooted in trust us merely a superficial facade of a relationship that will come to ruin because the truth always comes out. Be honest with yourself first and strive for full disclosure in your relationship, not to make yourself vulnerable, but to grow in love and respect of one another.” ~Kelly
“My best relationship lesson is to trust your gut. This is true of romantic relationships, friendships, or work relationships. If something doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t.” ~Tracy
“You have to allow people to change. It’s impossible for people to go through life exactly as they were when you first began your relationship, and if you want the relationship to stay healthy, you have to flow with the changes, support them, and recognise when the other person is doing the same for you.” ~Lau
“You have to be happy with yourself before you can be truly happy with another person.” ~Kel
“After only a year and a half of marriage… :) I think my best advice is not to set expectations of your partner, yourself, or what the “ideal situation” should be. Allow your partner to be exactly who he is and accept him for who he is without trying to change him. Instead, practice better communication so he understands how you feel, without blaming him for responding or acting differently than you think he should. Once you accept people for who they are, it is such a relief because it’s not your job to change people! I find when I don’t set unrealistic expectations out of my partner and our communication is on point, we are the happiest and most lovey dovey couple ever.” ~Katy
“My most important relationship is with my husband and I’ve found compromise to be our best lesson.” ~Nicki
“I can’t assume the other person knows what I am thinking or how something makes me feel. What the other person says is about them and how I feel about it is about me. Asking questions is usually the best thing for me to do instead of assuming what something meant. The more I stay in that place the less reactive I usually am.” ~Amanda B.
“Be with someone who can make you laugh! Looks fade but a sense of humor does not!” ~Margaret
“The biggest A-Ha moment I had came at year 17 of marriage. SHUT UP AND LISTEN!!!! I spent so much time trying to fix, explain, defend that I really never truly heard what my husband was telling me. When I stopped doing this, it was amazing what I heard and what I saw and what I felt for that matter.” ~Maryalice
“Constantly Choose the intention to learn in loving yourself and in loving others with the willingness to feel your feelings and accept responsibility of your feelings. I believe that we are LOVE and that the more we give love the more we love :)” ~Bree
“NO expert for sure, but as I approach my 10 year mark – I still believe you have to laugh a lot. Even if it is watching old Seinfeld shows and quoting our favorite lines to one another. For me, having someone with the same sense of humor is crucial.” ~Linda
“Ok so, my #1 lesson in love and lasting relationships would be… Don’t ever forget to be friends with your mate!! My husband and I have been together for 16 years and we still make time to do fun things together no matter how busy our crazy lives get!” ~Lisa
“Be clear on what it is that you want/need and communicate it clearly to those in your life. Obviously that need is different in different relationships but never assume *they know*.” ~Concita
“My #1 relationship lesson is that in order to make any relationship flourish you have to pay attention to it, water it and nourish it like a plant otherwise it will dry up and die.” ~Alice
“Play on a regular basis. The definition of play is to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. It seems when we become adults, life gets suddenly appears serious and stressful. Too often we let all of that serious stuff choke out taking the time to and experiencing the many benefits of play with those who are closet to us.” ~Erika N.
“I would say my biggest lesson in I’m learning is that my peace, my happiness, is solely in my hands. That no matter WHAT my spouse may do, it is NOT my business, not about me, and I STILL have the choice, regardless of circumstances, to choose love or fear.” ~Erika
“One of the biggest lessons for me is to encourage and support my spouse NO MATTER HOW CRAZY THE IDEAS OR HOBBIES ARE!” ~Lydia
“LAUGH TOGETHER…A LOT!!!” ~Lydia
“The greatest lesson I’ve learned in my 15 years of marriage is to have no expectations. I am not perfect, and I can’t expect my husband to be. When he disappoints me, then I’m not devastated. But rather, I realize that I make as many mistakes, if not more, than he does! This makes forgiveness so much easier. And honestly, don’t I want the same grace shown to me?” ~Miriam
“My number one lesson I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that even if you are dating/engaged/married, don’t forget to be single. Have your own things you do without the other person. You are an individual and the relationship should not take away from your individuality or independence. Appreciate those times apart and enjoy them.” ~Kristen
“#1 Best Lesson – ASK for what you need.” ~Kelly
“One of the biggest insights for me when it comes to my marriage (we’ll be 10 years married this year) is that my husband is not responsible for how I feel. He may do or say things that trigger certain feelings in me (good or bad!), but the feelings themselves are mine. Thus how I respond to my feelings in terms of action is 100% up to me.” ~Susan
“When you need something….ask for it. You may need a hug, you may need sex, you may just want him to do the dishes or make you a meal. But don’t expect your partner to read your mind.” ~Heather
“Giving up expectations of others and/or assumptions about what they should do/be doing has greatly improved all my relationships.” ~Jill J.
“My husband and I are coming up on our 31st wedding anniversary. Here it is #1: Have the faith to humble yourself to honest communication.” ~Linda
“I believe you need to be connected closely, through good and bad but allow enough space for your partner to grow.” ~Viv
“”I’ve learned to assume that each person is always just doing their best….it may not line up with what *I* need, but it doesn’t mean that they are less invested in the relationship – that’s just what they have to give for whatever reason. And of course if I care about them, then I want to respect that.” ~Allison S.
“I think the biggest relationship lesson I have learned (and it’s been in the last 2 years) is you have to be responsible for your own happiness. It can’t be dependent on any personal relationship, romantic or otherwise.” ~Jackie
“No matter what… start and end each day with a kiss!!!!” ~Alina
“The #1 relationship lesson I have learned is to be genuine and upfront about what you want. Being fake or pretending to be what the other person wants will come out in the wash so to speak.” ~Sara
“This was very timely as it is our wedding anniversary today! Our number one would be to ‘stick together regardless’ my Husband and I are always there for each other and have stuck together through ups and downs because we genuinely love and care for each other.“ ~Lorraine
“I try to always put my husband’s Needs before mine and ask the same in return.” ~Stephanie
“My spouse is not responsible for my happiness. It’s not his job to read my mind, always do what I want, or do things they way I think they should be done. I am solely responsible for my life and my happiness. He does not complete me, he compliments and enhances my life.” ~Amber G.
“Best thing I’ve learned and maybe the hardest… Always be 100% respectful and supportive of your partner’s wishes, regardless of whether you agree or would follow the same path. Allowing them to be individuals grows them in their uniqueness and will make them happy- and in turn, make you happy and possibly learn something as well!” ~Kim
“My #1 is this… I say to myself (as often as I can remember) “what can I do today to make his day just a little bit better” and then I do that little thing that pops into my head (example: iron his shirt, tell him how great he looks, do one of his chores, etc.).” ~Robyn
“My biggest lesson in relationships is: avoid holding on to my own point of view at all costs. So many relationships have ended or been seriously challenged because we are unwilling to simply take the time to see something from the other persons perspective.” ~Lana
“My husband is not me. He doesn’t have the same tendencies, sense of urgency, feelings about ‘things’, etc. Once I realized that I was the only one bothered by “the socks on the floor” our relationship got so much better.” ~Lori M.
“You can’t try to change someone. Love is truly accepting another person for who they are!” ~Adele
“Best lesson I’ve really yet to learn: don’t change yourself or give up what you really want to make someone ‘love’ you. Eventually the real you will come out and you may end up with someone who isn’t really the right one for you.” ~Angie
“I’ve found that my biggest lesson has been to always talk no matter how hard it might be. Nothing positive comes from silence. Communicate so everyone knows how you feel, how their response/action/inaction affected you and it allows walls to come down.” ~Christy
“I like to “flip” the situation. When I want to do something I always think of how I would feel if my husband asked me the same thing.” ~Rae Anne
“Honest open communication. Period. No secrets, no bullshit, no manipulation or passive aggressive behavior. Just open honest communication no matter what.” ~Alexandra
“It is not my husband’s job to make me happy all the time. He needs a whole person to be in relationship with. It is my responsibility to keep myself happy.” ~Olga
“I would have to say that my #1 best lesson when it comes to relationships is learning to listen and actually hear what people are saying. Listening without interrupting what they are saying and letting them finish completely before butting in with my 2 cents.” ~Leanne
“Showing appreciation and lifting others up during the good, bad an ugly times is so important.” ~Leah
“You have to/want to show up as your authentic self. Pretending everything is okay, when it isn’t, does NOT make everything okay. You’ve got to be real! It bites you in the ass when you aren’t.” ~Darcy K.