Admit it, reading that subtitle has you craving ice-cream right now doesn’t it? If you’re going to crack a tub open then I highly recommend pistachio, bit of an outlier flavor-wise I know but you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it.
I’m guessing you didn’t come here for advice on what kind of ice-cream you should be eating though so let’s move this banana split along.
Most of us want a rockstar relationship. It’s unlikely that your teenage dreams involved one day having a relationship that was just ‘meh’. You want magnificent and rightly so, that’s what you deserve.
I love writing about relationships. Mainly because my own have taught me such a lot and I want to share those learnings to help others. And also because I find people so fascinating. Often we do the exact opposite of what will get us the things we say we want. Go figure.
Through a great deal of trial and error, I’ve come to realise that having a rockstar relationship demands a rockstar amount of effort from both partners. It also requires a willingness to get well versed on a few things, well, ten of them to be exact.
They’re the relationship equivalent of the 10 commandments and living them every day will help you build the kind of partnership you’ve always dreamed of having.
So, without further ado, let me give you the scoop.
Sorry, couldn’t resist that one!
#10: We will have ice-cream bucket loads of fun together
For the love of all things good and sacred please have fun together! There are enough dull and difficult things in this life without your relationship being one of them.
Single people often wish they were in relationships but not all relationships are happy ones, in the fact the number that aren’t is astounding.
The reasons for that are too numerous and complex to distill down to one simple thing but I’d bet anything that a lack of fun is high up there.
Couples forget how to laugh and play together which is a damn shame because while life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows there should be a serious amount of sunshine in between the clouds that blow through.
Doing lighthearted fun things as a couple is what helps bond you together. Knowing you can be silly and goofy with each other as well as serious and deep is what strengthens your relationship. It adds layers. It keeps things interesting.
Don’t allow yourselves to become so weighed down by the grown-up world that you lose your access to your inner child. Unleash those crazy kids and unleash them frequently.
#9: We will pitch, bat and field for the same team
When it comes to your partner, batter up is a term you only want to hear if that bat is being swung for your team of two. I mean seriously, given how much you know about each others strengths and weaknesses, do you really want your partner taking to the field on any other side but yours?
No Sir Ree Bob!
And yet this is where so many of us stumble in our relationships. When times are tough it can be easy to forget we’re on the same team and before you know it you find yourself squaring off against the one person you love most in this world.
Try and remember that when it comes to life, you’re in this together. Frequently reminding yourselves that you’re on the same team can make weathering those storms that much easier.
#8: We will not air our dirty laundry on social media
So many couples make the mistake of sharing all that’s going wrong in their relationship with those around them, both in person and via social media. I would put money on you knowing one of these couples.
This can cause long-term damage to the relationship that proves insurmountable.
It’s tempting to seek solace in other people when things feel like they’re not working and while there’s nothing wrong with occasionally sharing the honest realities of being in a relationship with another complex human being, it shouldn’t be your go-to strategy for dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road.
This commandment is a deeply personal one for me, not because I ever shared anything on social media but because I often sought advice from other people about what I should do.
And do you know what? It only made me more confused. Deep down I knew the answers and the more I verbalized things to other people, who with the best of intentions would chip in their feelings, the more disconnected I became from my own.
Try and keep things in-house as much as you can and only seek advice or a venting outlet from those you trust when you most need it.
#7: We will go the extra 500 miles for each other
My mum is one lucky lady. A few months ago my dad didn’t think twice of driving her and all her friends an hour into the city so that they could enjoy one of their daughter’s bachelorette parties without having to worry about someone needing to remain teetotal in order to drive them home.
He hung around in the city all day, took in a movie, grabbed a bite to eat, went for a walk and then happily picked them all up at the end of what I’m sure was a very long day for him and drove them all home.
My mum would do exactly the same thing for him.
And both of them wouldn’t hesitate to go 500 extra miles for me too.
That’s what you do when you love someone.
Whenever you can, don’t just go the extra mile for your partner, go the extra 500 and do it with a smile, it’s that sort of thing that leads to happy 40 year marriages like my parents have.
#6: We will practice generous listening
For a long time I thought that listening was simply about being quiet but it turns out I was wrong.
Of course, silence is a part of listening but it’s not the only part. After all, how many times have you been quiet while your partner has been talking but in your mind you’re already thinking about what you’re going to say when they stop?
A lot of us do this. We listen to respond rather than being present and practising generous listening.
Listening to respond goes a little something like this: your partner is telling you about what happened in their day but you’re already thinking about what you want to tell them from your day.
Or, they’re sharing a problem and in your head you’re racing on down the path thinking about the solutions you can present them with if only they’d rap up their rant already.
We all do this, it’s human nature. As much as it can be hard to admit most of us like talking about ourselves and sharing our advice, thoughts and opinions. It makes us feel important. We don’t need to beat ourselves up over this, it’s how we’re wired. But becoming conscious of it can be really helpful.
Generous listening is when you suspend your own agenda. You give your partner your full attention without distractions or judgements, without thinking about how you’re going to respond to what they’re saying. You’re just there with them, fully, in that moment.
In a world where true presence is so hard to come by, it’s such a gift to have a partner who shows up and gives you the whole cake and not just a slice.
#5: We will be the loudest cheerleader in each others crowd
There’s no better feeling than knowing your partner has your back and is cheering you on in whatever it is you’re doing. It makes all the difference to have that level of love and support.
Sing your partners praises on a regular basis, not just to them and when they’re in earshot but also to other people when they’re not around. It sends the message to everyone else that hey, these two really respect one another.
If you put yourself out there then you’re going to have enough people hating you and running you down over the course of your life, you want your relationship to be a refuge from all of that not another place the mud gets slung or dreams get drowned.
By being each others biggest fan your relationship becomes a sanctuary and a source of strength that you can both drawn on when things outside the relationship aren’t going the way you hoped.
Cheer for each other until your throats get hoarse and dry and you’ll have the makings of a lifelong partnership.
#4: We will strive to be lions and not mice
In the words of Brene Brown, you can have courage or you can have comfort but you can’t have both. You need to decide early on which one of these it’s going to be. Are you going to have the courageous heart of a lion and run towards the challenges, fears and vulnerabilities that any deep relationship throws up or are you going to scurry away like a mouse back to where it feels comfortable?
If you’re still with me at this point in time then I already know that you’re a lion, otherwise you would have bailed several commandments ago.
Showing up in your relationship is hard. It takes you places inside yourself you hoped you’d never have to go. It opens wounds. It forces you to poke around in all those tender places. It’s downright terrifying at times. And yet it is the only way to create a deep and meaningful connection.
Choose to honour the struggle, choose to show up for both the good times and the dark days, choose to move toward vulnerability and not away from it.
In choosing to be courageous, you give your partner permission to do the same.
#3: We will remember why we fell in love with each other in the first place
In times of conflict and when navigating stormy relationship seas, it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re with you’re partner. If the lockdowns of 2020 have had you together 24/7 then you know what I mean.
You wake up, roll over and they’re there.
You sit down to eat breakfast and they’re there.
You take your seat at the extra long desk you’re using while you work from home and yip, they’re there.
You curl up on the sofa at the end of a long day to watch a film and yes, THEY’RE. STILL. THERE.
When your partner is slurping their way through a bowl of soup, breathing loudly while you’re trying to meet a deadline or nitpicking you over not separating out the recycling properly, it can be super easy to blow a fuse.
And one blown fuse can easily lead to a cycle of snipping at each other for things that in the grand scheme of it all are not important.
Whether it’s a small relationship issue or a more substantial one, remind yourself of what it is about your partner that made you fall hard for them in the first place.
Life is so short and each of us has such a tiny amount of time to be on this planet. If you truly love one another, remember to treasure each and every precious day you get to share together.
#2: We will seek first and foremost to understand
We all want to be understood but all too often we get so caught up in our partner wanting to understand our point of view that we don’t try hard enough to understand their’s.
In his seminal book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie states that we are less likely to dislike someone’s behaviour if we make an effort to understand the cause of it.
When it comes to our intimate relationships, both partners often spend too much time talking and not enough time listening. In an argument, if you focus all your time on trying to explain to your partner why they’re wrong about something and you’re right, you miss out on an opportunity to learn more about the way in which their mind works.
That’s valuable information that could prove helpful in better managing conflict down the line but you won’t get these gems if you’re not prepared to walk a few miles in your partners shoes.
And it doesn’t just apply to conflict. Seeking to understand your partners likes and dislikes, their beliefs and values, what triggers them, where their wounds are, all of this helps you to better understand who your partner is.
There’s something in this approach for you too, just in case you were thinking you have to constantly keep your lips zipped and never voice your own feelings. The more you seek to understand your partner, the more willing they will be to try and understand you. You hear them, they’ll be more likely to hear you.
Now that’s what we call a relationship win-win!
#1: We will be each others light in the dark
I’m all for practising gratitude and positive thinking but sometimes life is just downright hard and in those moments, when it feels like our own inner light has gone out and we’ve lost our way, what we most need is someone who’s prepared to be our lighthouse. Someone who can stand strong and solid and shine a light while we navigate our way through rough waters.
The best relationships are made up of two people who take turns being each others light in the dark.
This isn’t about the doing, it’s not about fixing or solving your partners problems, it’s about the being, quietly journeying along beside the person you love while they figure out what to do next.
Most of the time that’s all you need. A partner who will hold you while you cry, who will be a safe space for you to be honest about how you’re feeling and what it’s like to be you right now. Someone who acts as a safe sanctuary where you can drop anchor and know that after being tossed about in the ocean, you can come ashore to this place that is always warm and dry.
Love is about gently guiding those you love back home to who they are. It’s about sharing the glow from your light until their own reignites.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your partner is to let them know that you will always be their light in the dark.
Cone-gratulations, you’ve made it to the end of this piece! I know, you thought we were done with the ice-cream puns didn’t you but I just had to serve you up another couple before I whip on outta here.
I bet you have your own commandments that have acted as a north star in your current or previous relationships and I’d love to hear those so please share them in the comments.
Oh, and don’t forget, pistachio ice-cream — the world will make a whole lot more sense once you’ve tried it ;)