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If you are like us, you are sick and tired of all the debate about what constitutes a successful marriage or relationship.  Does it really matter what others think about OUR love, who we marry, or what makes us happy in life? Shouldn't the real question be, "What does it take to sustain a loving relationship for a lifetime?"    

Our point was driven home to us today when we saw the wonderful movie entitled, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”  In so many ways it answered the question of what it takes to sustain a loving relationship.  To say we loved the movie is an understatement!   The script was awesome, the acting superb, the movie-making gorgeous, and the story-telling most compelling.  

The movie so well captured what it is like growing old, losing a spouse due to death, living in a bad marriage, making it work in a good one, falling in love, and capturing self-worth near the end of life.  Sometimes people find their way late in life and the movie illustrated all that so well.  

What we were so impressed with in the end was how much the scriptwriter, Ol Parker, did his homework!  He understood life.  He understood what it means to grow old.  He understood what we have learned in our interviews around the world - there are, indeed, ingredients to all successful marriages and relationships - and he articulated them so well through her characters.  

What was exceptional about this movie was the way the scriptwriter understood life and wrote about it in ways that exploded on the big screen.  We would highly recommend it.  We were mesmerized.  We laughed and cried a lot.  The movie touched our hearts.

The movie, based in India, reminded both of us of our time in Tangier and Casablanca interviewing successfully married couples two years ago.  A kaleidoscope of life was formed by the noise, the hustle-bustle, the incredible array of colors, and the smiles and passion for life that the people exhibited.  We were inspired then and again today when we watched the movie.

This movie reinforced what we have researched for 30+ years, written about in our books, and exposed in our many blogs – there are "seven core values of great marriages and loving relationships" present in all successful loving relationships around the world, and here they are in a nutshell:

1. The couple in love is committed to always putting each other first in their relationship with each other .

The first thing you notice in all highly successful loving relationships is that those who purport to be in love recognize that their relationship is not about you and me, it is about US.  Discovering that YOU are not the center of the universe is the hallmark of a great relationship.  Actually putting another human being number one is a powerful indication that you are truly in love.

2. The couple in love is committed to democracy in their relationship.  

Always remember, successful loving relationships are egalitarian.  Namely, the best relationships understand that theirs is a shared relationship.  If one person has all the power and makes all the decisions, it is NOT love!  True love is a very democratic thing!

3. The couple in love is committed to ensuring their mutual happiness.  

Remember, true love is not just about ensuring your happiness.  More importantly, and often for the first time in your life, you actually enjoy and are motivated by ensuring the happiness of someone other than yourself.  It is a good feeling!

4. The couple in love values absolute trustworthiness and integrity in their relationship with each other.  

If you cannot trust the one you love, then it is not true love!  Trust us on that.  The most successful loving relationships report that they trust their mate unequivocally and without hesitation.  To violate that trust is to undermine and, ultimately destroy, the relationship with the one you say you love.

5. The couple in love is committed to caring and unconditional love for each other.  

When you truly love someone you do so without conditions.  It is not about loving you IF . . .    True love is unconditional.

6. The couple in love is committed to being mutually respectful towards each other.  

There is a Golden Rule in true love and it is like the one you learned early in your life – "Do unto others as you would have then do unto you."  Do not expect to be treated with respect when you are disrespectful to the one you love.  Respectfulness is at the heart of all great loving relationships.

7. The couple in love values their mutual sense of responsibility for each other.  

People in love care for each other in ways that they have never cared for another.  They feel a sense of responsibility for another person that they have never felt before.  It feels so good to put another's needs above your own.  To do so is to love deeply.

The Core Values of all successful loving relationships are at the heart of the matter.  If you and your mate master these values, your love will, in all probability, last a lifetime.  You will be eligible to stay at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz

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