Make These 6 Relationship Moves Now or You'll Regret It in 20 Years

There's no science to relationships. That said, communication is key to keeping you and your significant other together and happy in the face of everyday setbacks. If the goal is to grow old together in matching rocking chairs, then make these six relationship moves or you'll regret it in 20 years. (See also: Avoid These 5 Pitfalls When Moving in Together)

1. Speak Up and Say No

Being assertive with your wants and needs is just as important as being compassionate and considerate of your partner's needs. This goes for both big and small topics: You don't like carnations, but you keep getting them on your birthday. You grin and bear it through The Big Bang Theory, because it's their favorite show. Your partner wants kids and you don't. Your partner wants a house in their home state someday and you don't want to move. This is also true with intimacy preferences. If you've tried something in bed enough times to know you don't like it, speak up — sexual incompatibility is a chief cause for many breakups and divorces. It's better to address it now.

What this prevents: A sense of obligation to do something you don't like. If it goes long enough, resentment and hostility will bubble up to the surface. Your partner will also be upset, because you didn't articulate your wants and needs in the first place.

2. Delete Your Dating Apps

We all know someone in a relationship who still flips through OKCupid and Match, or swipes through Tinder or Grindr after a beer or two. Why are you still there? If you don't think the relationship is working out, then it might be time to end it. Most people in a committed relationship would expect their partners to at least ignore those websites and unsubscribe to their emails. At the end of the day, you put yourself in a position that calls your trustworthiness into question.

What this prevents: Possibly unwarranted accusations of cheating. If you're not in an open or poly relationship, you could lose your partner's trust.

3. Schedule Date Nights

Ugh, date nights, right? They sound as if they would suck the romance out of your currently stable and happy relationship. However, after a few years, there's always a slump. Every couple faces it and wonders, are we still in love? You get so comfortable that you forget to celebrate each other and the love that you share. Ideally, couples would automatically set aside one night per week (or at least per month) as a special date night. It could be any date ritual that is important to you. It's fun to dress up a little and go somewhere to show each other off.

What this prevents: Boredom, loneliness, and the dreaded "We never go anywhere!" fights.

4. Sort Out Your Finances Together

No one likes doing this. Instead, we make assumptions and hope for the best until a surprise comes our way. This is a recipe for disaster if you're planning to be in a relationship for the long haul with someone. Even if you aren't married, you should be upfront about debt, savings goals, budgets, and spending habits. Be willing to share and take advice from each other. If anyone has a decent chance at helping you improve your finances, it's a loving partner who shares your goals.

What this prevents: The unwelcome surprise that your partner has $100,000 in student loan debt, which will exacerbate the already stressful fights over spending, bills, and savings down the road.

5. Share a Hobby

It's always a good idea to share activities that remind you why you liked each other in the first place. Do you both collect art? Do you both enjoy hunting? Do you both want to learn a skill? Find an affordable and fun thing that you can enjoy together on a basic level, as friends. Because friendship is the solid base of any romantic relationship. Share opinions and help each other grow at your chosen skill. This might sound like a recreational "elective," but consider how much closer sharing a passion or collaborating toward a goal could bring you together.

What this prevents: Lack of shared purpose beyond the household, which can lead to resentment and estrangement. Or, having fights about one partner being "too into" a hobby that excludes the other.

6. Know When It's Over

There are a myriad of reasons why you could want to end a relationship. Perhaps your life goals don't mesh, or one of you won't go to couple's therapy, or you're no longer having sex. If something is a dealbreaker for you, you have to declare it as such. If you've already talked through your needs in an open and compassionate way many times before, with no results, you need the courage to end the relationship, because it's what's best for both of you. Don't hang on waiting for a force majeure to occur. That's how people remain in relationships with abusive or emotionally absent partners. No one deserves that.

What this prevents: Feeling trapped in a stagnant, unloving, or toxic relationship for years.

What are you doing to keep your relationship fresh and strong for the long haul?

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Make These 6 Relationship Moves Now or You'll Regret It in 20 Years

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