This is something of the Cliffs Notes version of a book that I am writing. It would seem to me that this advice is rather common sense, but it really isn't. At least not in the relationships that I have seen. Most people can get about half of this without being prompted, and get three-quarters with some prompting. In any case, this is meant for two kinds of people. Both kinds should be in a committed relationship.

The first kind of person this is for is someone whose relationship is on the rocks, and is looking for some things they can do to improve the relationship. The second kind of person this is for is someone who loves their partner very much, but is finding their patience with their shortcomings wearing very thin. Usually there is a lack of communication because this type of person has not yet realized how to voice their thoughts. There is a third kind of person this is for. The kind that doesn't yet realize their relationship is doomed. These people are already in an unhealthy relationship and don't even realize it. This is for you as well.

If you love someone, and truly wish to make the relationship work, there are a few core things that must exist. These are the most basic, minimal requirements for a healthy relationship. I am neither a pyschiatrist, nor a medical doctor of any sort. My qualifications are merely this: since my first date I have logged things that have gone right, gone wrong, conclusions of certain trends, acting as counselor for friends and strangers, and reading quite a number of books on dealing with people. Oh yes, and being a barkeep for a while.

  1. NEVER TOLERATE CHEATING UNLESS YOU ARE MARRIED: ...and even then, think long and hard about if it is worth it. If you are not yet married, you have nothing to lose by cutting the ties then and there. Maybe someone has to move out, maybe there is a fight about the car. Maybe someone will lose their favorite pet. It doesn't matter. These are not things that will ruin your life. Staying with someone that is unfaithful and getting a disease from them very well could ruin your life, though. If, however, you are married, I recommend giving it some thought. Is it an isolated event, an honest mistake? Or is it a continuing trend. If it was a single mistake, look for the source of the issue, try to work it out. Perhaps counseling, perhaps just spicing up your love life. Oftentimes, if you are married, there are children involved, as well as other family ties, and you can end up ruining a lot more lives than just your own. If it's a trend, then as much as I hate to say it, get a divorce.

  2. IF IT'S A LITTLE THING, LET IT SLIDE. IF IT'S BIG, COMMUNICATE: ...The first thing to remember is that no one is perfect. However, everyone has certain truths, certain philosophies they will never bend on. If it is a little annoyance, then let it go. You have just as many ways of annoying them. If it's something big, however, then communicate it. It will not go away on it's own. If they don't want to change it, decide if it's one of those things you won't bend on, or if you can compromise. If not, then you might as well end it.

  3. COMMON COURTESY GOES A LONG WAY: Believe it or not, men are more likely to exhibit the common courtesies than are women (at least from what I've seen in the four corners of America). But nevertheless, there are always people who just don't get it. For Men this means things like calling her when you say you will. Listening to her when she talks. Occasionally doing something nice for her, like buying her a tank of gas, or picking her some flowers. If she dresses up nice for you, tell her so. If she cooks for you, rave about how good it tastes, and eat every bite. (If it tastes horrible, you can find ways to avoid a repeat later). If she cleans the place, tell her how nice it looks. Always acknowledge and thank her if she does something for you. Offer to get up and get the drinks/snacks every now and then. If you see something that's broken in her house, and you know how to do it, fix it. Remember the words "Thank You".

    For Women, this means make a serious attempt to be on time. If you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain time, then be there, at that time. Not on your way an hour and a half later. Don't talk about your ex-boyfriend (we don't care, and don't want to know, unless it's to talk about how much better we are than him and even then it gets old). If we take you out to dinner, and you feel the need to order something really expensive, eat it, eat every bite. Offering to pay your share from an uneaten eighty-dollar meal is insulting to most men. If he ever confides a deep secret to you, do not tell anyone. This includes your best girlfriend you've known since kindergarten and tell everything to. Lastly, if he asks you to dress nice it means wear a dress, because he'll be wearing a suit and planning to take you somewhere fancy. Dress nice does not mean wear a sweater and your denim skirt. Remember the words "Thank You".

  4. NO RELATIONSHIP IS ALWAYS 50/50, BUT...: If your partner cannot even maintain a 25/75 relationship, then it is time to look elsewhere. I recently broke it off with a woman whom I loved very much, because she lived in a fairy-tale world where she didn't have to say "Thank You" unless she happened to think of it. She had her dates, gas, and rent paid for. She had doors opened for her, closed for her. I would drop what I was doing and drive across town to comfort her in the middle of the night when she needed it. If I had plans and she got a whim to do something else, I adjusted them to fit her schedule. In return I expected a very basic level of common courtesy (see above). She could not even deliver that. The final straw was showing up at her house after I was invited over, and she wouldn't even get herself out of bed to answer the door when I was knocking for ten minutes. Ladies, if you treat a man like this, it doesn't matter what you look like, it doesn't matter how good you are in bed, it doesn't matter how good your massages are, how excellent your cooking is. There is a certain putting-up-with-her-shit threshold that every man decides for himself. Once we're tired of it, that's it.

    Men, take note, this is entirely applicable to you as well, except she'll probably never tell you you're doing it. If you're not sure if you're giving near your 50% of the relationship, ask her best friend.

  5. YOU DON'T NEED TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS TO MEET A PRINCE(SS): A lot of men and women get the idea that in order to be absolutely sure they have the right person, they must first run out and sample the oats some more. If you have found someone you love, that meets all the above requirements, and that you can actually see spending the rest of your life with... then do so. Don't ask them to wait for you while you try to make up your mind and sleep with other people. Most people will have a chance like that only once or twice in their entire lives. Remember, dating is a process of elimination. You do not date to try and find Mr. or Ms. Right. You date to weed out the hundreds of Mr. and Ms. Wrongs. If you know you are comfortable, and enjoy and love the one you're with, why risk it and all the time invested in that relationship for something that is statistically one-hundred to one odds against you finding someone that is even comparable?

These are the basic building blocks of a healthy relationship. It all amounts to the golden rule. Always work towards these things, and you will have a relationship that lasts. Without these things, it is only a matter of time before you come to realize that love is not enough.