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Relationship Advice: 7 Strategies for a Great Relationship

1. Commitment

True commitment means much more than simply committing to staying married. Here's one of my favorite quotes about marriage: ``When you marry, you don't marry one person, you marry three: The person you think he is; the person he really is; and the person he is going to become as a result of marrying you.''

Key strategy: Genuine commitment involves being committed to the growth and best interest of your partner. Or as one wise married person said to me, ``What's good for my partner, is good for me.''

2. Teamwork

There was once a couple who went by the name of Mr. Neat and Ms. Clean. Mr. Neat could bathe in a shower full of soap scum and not mind at all as long as the towels and soap were neat and in their place. Ms. Clean could have piles and piles of stuff scattered everywhere, as long as the piles were clean. This couple can have either a very neat and clean home or a real mess on their hands, depending on their ability to work together as a team.

Key strategy: Use the five most important words in marriage: ``Let's try it your way.''

3. Communication

Without exception, every couple I have ever worked with struggles with effective communication. Part of the reason is that two people with the exact same communication style rarely marry each other. Because of this factor, we oftentimes misunderstand what the other person is saying and then react to what we think we have heard.

Key strategy: Use the 10 most important words in marriage _ ``Let me see if I get what you are saying.''

4. Meeting emotional needs

In the same way that two people with the same communication style rarely marry each other, spouses rarely have the same emotional needs. What happens is that each of us give what we would most like to get, but the other person may not want that at all.

Key strategy: Discover and then meet the emotional needs of your partner. How? Simple. Just ask!

5. Resolving conflict

Conflict in marriage is inevitable. Fighting is optional.

For some folks that's a revolutionary idea. The bottom line is that many times in marriage you have a choice: You can be right or you can be happy, but you can't be both.

Key strategy: Stay away from ``my way'' or ``your way'' battles. Focus on ``our way'' solutions, or as Stephen Covey says, ``win-win'' solutions.

6. Apology & forgiveness

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" the theme from the movie "Love Story" has just one problem - one person died and the couple didn't get to see the long-term damage of never saying you're sorry.

Key strategy: On a regular basis, practice the three A's of successful relationships: Apologize for something from the past, appreciate something in the present and anticipate something in the future.

7. Creating a relationship vision

Most couples spend more time planning a three-day getaway than they do planning what kind of marriage they would like to have. Vision has been defined as ``the ability to see beyond the probable by envisioning the possible ... the act of dreaming without restriction opens up possibilities that you could not have considered before ... ``

Key strategy: Ask yourself and each other this question - "If we knew we couldn't fail, and we could design our relationship any way that we wanted it, how would we like it to be?"

Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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