The next best thing to preventing conflict is having the skills to manage differences effectively. Most of us don't come into marriage with highly developed conflict-management skills, but these abilities can be cultivated through practice on the job.
Feeling fully seen, accepted, valued and cherished are really wonderful experiences, and these feelings can generate the kind of safety that leads to intimacy, spontaneity and aliveness in the relationship and in the bedroom.
Ultimately, you chose your partner for a reason. You have a soul-level connection that can transcend any differences. Hold strong to that fact and you'll soon find that smarts and social can indeed go hand-in-hand in any relationship.
Though its initial spark might be as simple as lighting a match, maintaining a relationship is a complex endeavor requiring effort and attention. Using a bow, string and spindle stick to make fire is not easy, and neither is keeping a relationship alive.
In his book Play, psychiatrist Stewart Brown says that play is key to keeping relationships from hardening into drudgery. But once you're coupled up and having regular discussions about who did the dishes last, play may not come as easily.
I've been married 18 years, which is a long time, but it's still a small number. Eighteen, big deal. You can't even buy a decent pizza for $18. I like big numbers, so as of today,I have been married for 6,590 days. Thousands of days into marriage, this is what I've learned.
No relationship is going to be perfect, close to perfect or even in the ballpark. And that's okay. Relationships are tricky and take a lot of figuring out. Don't forget to just enjoy the ride, even if that means you aren't "Facebook official" yet.
Like that Flaming Lips song, we can spend the rest of our lives fearing that "life goes fast and it's hard to make the good things last" or we can take advantage of the time we have and give a crap about other people.
I took a hard look at what I learned in exploring love at midlife -- how long-term couples keep love fresh or how new midlife couples coming together manage their backstory and baggage. It was illuminating, and more inspiring than any fairy tale.
I grew up in an era when Joni Mitchell's declaration that "we don't need no piece of paper from the city hall" seemed just about right and the very idea of eschewing the shackles of conventional marriage thrilled us wild children of the times.
Relationships and all their pitfalls are still the most important and life-changing circumstances that define our life. When it is all said and done, it is the only really meaningful markers we have to remember our lives.