When I said "I do" on a sandy beach many years ago, I'm not sure I fully understood what those two words really meant. But, as the years have gone by, I have learned a lot about myself and what really makes a relationship work.
My husband and I are about as different as a couple can get. But rather than being irritated by our differences, we revel in them. In all of our years together (20 and counting), we have learned to embrace the differences between our personalities, and we now see them as one of our greatest strengths as a couple.
What we have learned along the way is that there are a few key ingredients in making a marriage work. And when you really think about it, these ingredients are essential to making any relationship in life work. Because after all, a marriage is a relationship; and if we don't understand the foundation of a relationship, we will never get to the other good stuff!
Part of learning how to really get along with another person can be found in the 4 Cs, which are an integral part of any relationship. So often, when these key ingredients are not being practised, problems quickly bubble to the surface and then become issues that are difficult to manage.
So what are the 4 Cs?
In its simplest form, commitment is sticking by another person during the good and the bad times and recognising that challenges are opportunities to strengthen the commitment, instead of reasons to quit.
Communication either makes or breaks most relationships. Learning how to really communicate with your partner requires both of you to not only stop and listen, but to also really hear what the other person is saying. Once you are both in a position to hear each other, focusing on the present and staying in the moment, will allow you to be open and honest with each other in a safe and caring way.
Compromise doesn't mean forgoing what you believe in or truly feel; it means that in relationships, just like in life, you often have to balance out your own needs and wants with those of others. A healthy relationship should affirm who each partner is and allow each person to meet his or her needs together.
Choose (your battles)
It took having children before I truly understood what this C really meant. Once you figure out the true nature of choosing your battles (or being selective in what you stand your ground on), implementing this C in your marriage or relationship will encourage you to look at decisions in a much different light.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.