Building a successful relationship

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Romantic relationships often come with a long list of wishes and expectations. After all, the decision of who to marry is a critical one — a decision that BYU students are reminded of frequently.

With so much pressure surrounding one choice, it may be easy to get pigeonholed into the idea that a relationship needs to fit a certain mold to be successful.

Megan Oka and Jonathan Sandberg, marriage and family therapy professors at BYU, emphasized that successful relationships can work and look differently for everyone as long as they have certain key components.

In his undergraduate classes, Sandberg asks students what they consider to be the three most important components of a relationship. The most common responses include answers like love, honesty and communication. For him, commitment tops the list.

“You don’t have to like all of the same things or match on everything, but what really keeps you in the relationship is commitment,” he said. “One of the key reasons we are having problems across the nation right now is lack of commitment.”

Paige Hancock, a recently married graduate in marketing from the Marriott School of Management, said the same thing about her relationship with her husband. Prior to their marriage, the Hancocks were in a long distance relationship, making these key components even more crucial.

“It’s vital to have the same high level of commitment to each other,” she said. “We could not have built a relationship living away from each other without that.”

Oka also highlighted the importance of honesty and trustworthiness in a relationship.

“Typically relationships break down when people feel they can’t trust each other anymore,” she said. Oka added that it is important to be consistent. “If you say you are going to be somewhere at a certain time, be there.”

These vital components are what is necessary to any relationship, but students often find themselves hung up on the small things.

“I have students come to me and say ‘we don’t have it,  — usually implying some kind of chemistry or romantic connection, a mystical force,” Sandberg said. “There is no it.’ Love is not a blood type, people do not wake up one day and say, oh, I guess we had the wrong love match. Successful romantic relationships are built, not discovered.”

Sandberg concluded this to be another manifestation that people are terrified of commitment. Oka also said people tend to agonize over their relationships instead of enjoying the moments as they happen.

“Sometimes we spend so much time looking at them under a microscope that we forget to actually be in them,” she said.

 

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