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The Secrets of Great Relationships

After hearing from many frustrated people over the years we’ve heard from a lot of disenchanted people who have felt very pessimistic people about their chances of creating a fulfilling long-term partnership. Some of the most common assertions have been:  “There are no good men/women out there who are not already taken”, “I don’t know anyone who has a great relationship and I’m not willing to settle for a mediocre one”,  “I’m too messed up to create a healthy relationship” and Maybe I’m just one of those people who isn’t cut out for marriage.”

We realized that reassuring people that it in fact was possible wasn’t going to be enough and decided to provide some evidence to back up our claim. We interviewed over 50 couples with exemplary relationships and heard their testimonies as well as their take on how they managed to create deeply fulfilling relationships, often in the face of great adversity including health crises, financial failure, depression, loss of loved ones, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and various forms of family dysfunction in many of their childhoods. In response to our question about how they managed to fulfill their dream, often despite the odds, a number of themes ran through their stories. Here are the most common:

  • An awareness of the value of a fulfilling relationship.
  • A commitment to give the time, energy, and care that the partnership requires to thrive.
  • Enlightened self-interest. Trusting that what one invests in the well-being of their partner ultimately enhances the quality of their own life.
  • Life-long learning is a desire to learn from and apply the lessons that life experience offers.
  •  A sense of one’s life purpose that is separate but supported by their commitment to their relationship.
  • Responsibility.  The recognition that each plays a part in the relationship being where it is, and that we have the power to influence where it goes from here.
  • No blame. Rather than seeking to find fault with another, the focus is on questions like “What can I do that might help to move us forward to a better place?”
  • Learning and practicing the art of skillfully managing differences.
  • A willingness to seek outside help when needed.
  • Making the quality of the relationship a high priority.
  • Vulnerability. Relating to each other non-defensively.
  • Committed listening. Bringing full attention to interactions without interrupting, judging, correcting, or advising unless specifically requested.
  • Believing eyes. Seeing each other’s gifts and beauty and reflecting them back to them.
  • Equality. True partnerships are nonhierarchical, based on an equal distribution of power.
  • Generosity. This refers to generosity of spirit where one’s concern extends beyond one’s own needs and desires.
  • Self-care is a commitment to invest time and energy in the relationship without neglecting one’s own needs.
  • Humor, playfulness, and fun. Making time for play, pleasure and enjoyment.
  • Gratitude. Cultivating and embodying an attitude of gratitude may be the most important item on the list.

Also, feel free to add your own criteria that may be unique to you or your unique circumstances. Great relationships don’t get created overnight. It’s an ongoing process, but when you take this intention on as a commitment, over time and with practice, it gets easier and begins to feel more natural as our old defensive structures diminish and fade away. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself. What have you got to lose?

This set of guidelines is for anyone who is serious about taking on the challenges of a committed partnership. Consider which of these factors you have already sufficiently developed, and which ones could use more of your attention. Feel free to add your own criteria that are unique to your circumstances. Great relationships don’t get created overnight, but with a clear intention, old defensive structures can dissolve and be transformed into life-enhancing practices.

But don’t take our word for it. Try it and see for yourself. What have you got to lose?

Parts of this article have been taken from our book The Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting LoveIts chapters are filled with nuggets of practical wisdom that any couple will find useful.


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The Secrets of Great Relationships


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). The Secrets of Great Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 17, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Sep 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.