Learning how to be in a relationship can have its challenges. Here are some rules to love by that have guided many couples to bliss and beyond.
1. When someone you love hurts you, never hurt back. Instead, let your partner know that your feelings have been hurt and that your partner needs to offer an immediate apology. Your love life will be better for it.
2. Minimize the drama in your life. Not every little thing is worth getting upset over. When you put all of your emotional energy into other things, you won't have any left over for the one you love. Keep small matters in perspective.
3. If you make a mistake, fess up. We all do and say dumb things; it's just being human. Accept that neither you nor your partner will be perfect. By not taking each other's mistakes personally, you will lower the tension level in your relationship.
4. If your love life has slowed down, talk about it and see how each of you feels. It's fine if you are both OK with it, but if one of you needs more physical attention, you should address it. Your partner could be feeling lonely and resentful, which will keep you from being as close.
5. Spend an evening on the couch just cuddling. You can put on some music, but don't sit and watch a movie. Just stay wrapped up in each other's arms and enjoy the closeness. For many people, cuddling is just as intimate as making love.
6. Value the good times -- and one another. When you do this, it's much harder for difficult moments and little daily problems to bring you down. When you have a strong bond, traffic jams can be laughed off rather than cause you to stew.
7. Accepting that you are each trying your best, regardless of the task, actually increases your love for each other. Feeling accepted by your mate is life-enhancing and gives you the strength you need to tackle new or difficult issues.
8. Never shut out your partner or put him or her down. When you withdraw from or say something degrading to the person you are sharing your life with, it takes away from your bond. There is no reason why two people who love each other can't work through the normal upsets of life in a positive way.
9. Trust that your partner has your back. Yes, you may have been let down a time or two, but your respect for and knowledge of one another have probably grown. If you aren't trusting 100 percent, it's time to start.
10. It is never too late to have a happy, strong and loving relationship. No matter what you have been through, there is still the option for you to agree to start fresh.
Couples go through all kinds of ups and downs. As long as we are learning, then we have the ability to keep our relationships moving forward.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com)