Who among us hasn't asked how to make a relationship work? A myriad of factors can be at work "interfering" with the peace and well-being of a relationship. Are you and your mate compatible? Do you and your partner communicate well? Is the balance of give-and-take equitable between you and your partner? Is there a foundation of honesty and trust in your relationship? How to make a relationship work starts with identifying where and how your relationship is not working.

On the issue of compatibility, Leo Tolstoy rightfully said, "What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility." How to make a relationship work is rooted in having the proper expectations that no one will ever be 100% "compatible" with you. There will always be obstacles to overcome, annoying habits, and frustrations--that is unavoidable. Dealing with issues of incompatibility begins with first understanding the opposite sex, probably the largest "incompatibility" of all heterosexual couples. A great place to begin is by reading John Gray's series of "Mars and Venus" books. His books are available in countless languages and specifically address understanding the thinking process and needs of the opposite sex.

Communication is also a key ingredient in how to make a relationship work. Address frustrations when they arise in an open-minded fashion (without blame or accusation). One of the best pieces of advice for women is to keep nagging to a minimum. Shaunti Feldhahn suggests in her book For Women Only that a woman should only say say one out of every five "complaints" that she has of her boyfriend or husband. Likewise, a man can become a better listener by giving his full attention when his girlfriend or wife is talking, not responding with advice or judgments but instead validating what she has said with, "Oh, wow, that sucks," or, "What a bummer!" Learning to apologize whole-heartedly is another communication secret of how to make a relationship work.

Moreover, maintaining an equitable balance of give-and-take may seem like a relationship issue, but it generally has more to do with establishing and maintaining your own boundaries than with your partner. Knowing yourself and your limits is a critical part of how to make a relationship work. When your partner infringes on your generosity, do you ignore it because you fear breaking up...or do you address it and deal with it? It often seems that poor relationship boundaries are a direct result of not wanting to "rock the boat" due to a fear of the relationship ending and being alone. Often times a "taking" partner situation can be rectified with the "giving" partner making themselves less available and changing up the normal routine. If you are the giver, go out with your friends tonight instead of spending the night on your couch next to your partner. Take care of yourself first!

Finally, if trust and honesty are issues, you might seek the assistance of a qualified relationship counselor. These can be deeper issues that may need extra attention to make a relationship work.

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