In today’s video, I’m going to share a possible “secret” for how to stay together in a long-term relationship.

Read or watch below to learn the secret of staying together.

Zachary Stockill: There are a lot of videos on the internet with people talking about the secret of staying together, how to make love last, how to preserve and protect a long-term relationship. In today’s video, I’m going to tell you what I believe to be maybe the number one way people can stay together in a long-term relationship. 

Years ago, probably about five or six years ago, I was in a coffee shop having a conversation with some close friends of mine. This couple, who were about 10 years older than me, had been in a relationship for many years. And crucially, they’re one of those couples where they come off as good relationship role models. They’ve been together maybe for 20 years. But they still seem to like each other. They genuinely get a kick out of each other. And, you can tell there’s a tremendous amount of mutual respect, and they also seem to still have that romantic sexual element as well.

I think you can often get the best relationship advice, not from people on YouTube, like me, or not experts or anything like that. But from ordinary couples who clearly have a good thing going, and who’ve clearly found a way to make it work. 

So one of my favorite topics of conversation with couples, when it’s clear they’ve got a good thing going, is: how do you keep that going? What’s your secret to staying together?

What makes your relationship work? Or what drew you together? What’s your secret of staying together?

secret of staying together

So I was asking my friend these questions. She gave the best answer that I’ve ever heard to the question of the secret of staying together. And it sounds strange and counterintuitive, but I think it’s actually quite profound. 

She told me that she wakes up every morning and looks over across her pillow at her partner sleeping peacefully, and she thinks to herself: “Yes, you are the problem I want to have today.”

Of course, the “problem” in this phrase is her partner.

Some of the hardcore romantics or idealists out there might look at that and say, “You know, that’s terrible, your partner is not a problem, you should praise them. And you should always think so highly of them. That’s not romantic at all…”

But to my mind, this is extremely romantic. There’s something very moving and touching to me about that statement.

Because, by acknowledging that her partner is a “problem,” she’s acknowledging that anyone she chooses is going to be a problem.

She’s acknowledging I’m loving this person with my whole heart. Not in spite of the fact that they have certain issues or certain problems, and there are certain annoying things involved in being with them. But in some ways, because of it. I’m choosing to have these problems voluntarily. Because I love this person. And these problems are part and parcel of this person who I love. 

She’s not idealizing him. She’s not thinking that he’s perfect. And she’s not holding him up to an unrealistic standard. 

secret of staying together

And she’s not loving him halfway. By that, I mean, she’s not loving him for his good qualities only. She’s loving all of the complexity and good things and bad things and everything in between. She’s loving the total package of what makes her partner unique and special. And to me, that is love.

Love does not involve loving someone halfway. 

True love does not involve loving someone’s good qualities and ignoring the bad qualities. True love is loving someone fully

True love is realizing that anyone you choose to love is going to have serious challenges, serious problems, serious issues. Because we’re human beings. We’re all imperfect in our own way.

It’s about voluntarily facing the day-to-day challenges involved in being with this person or being with any person, and the day-to-day challenges involved in preserving a long-term relationship. 

This is the secret of how to stay together over the long term. Not how to get together, but how to stay together. 

It’s about realizing your partner is not perfect, and at the same time realizing that perfection does not exist. 

Looking for perfection in anyone is a complete waste of time because it doesn’t exist. You’re always going to have bad times, and it doesn’t matter who you’re with. You’re going to have challenging moments. You’re going to have moments when one or both parties want to leave. And you’re probably going to have moments when you go fantasizing about someone else. Or maybe idealizing someone new.

And on some level, maybe you’re thinking that some other person is going to be perfect. And sometimes, you could have a much better relationship with someone else. Sometimes, moving on is the right choice. 

However, I think more often than not, it’s a better course of action to say to yourself, “This person is a problem. I’m a problem. Anyone I choose, if I stay with them long enough, will become somewhat of a problem. There are always going to be issues that come up, and perfection does not exist.”

You’ve probably heard the phrase, the honeymoon period… 

There’s this narrative out there in the culture that you get together with someone and after a year and a half, or maybe two years, the “honeymoon period” wears off. And that’s when real issues start to come up. That’s when couples start to break up. That’s when a lot of couples break up, after the initial euphoria of the honeymoon phase wears off. 

But if you enter into any relationship with the acknowledgment that this person is imperfect, just like me, I think it gives us a better chance to stay together. Because that mode of thinking results in a lower risk of being disappointed over the long term.

I think for a lot of people who become terribly disappointed by their partner…

Maybe they were idealizing that person to a dangerous extent. 

secret of staying together

… rather than realizing, right from the get-go, that I am going to face challenges. I am going to have problems with this person. But I will face challenges and problems no matter who I bring into my life for a long-term basis.

I think that’s a big part of the secret of staying together. Realizing that your partner is a problem, but at the same time realizing that you’re a problem, realizing that no one is perfect, and many of the challenges you’re facing with your partner you would face at some point with just about anyone.

If you have serious questions about the future of your relationship or you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, and need some personalized guidance and support, then click here to connect with me for one-on-one coaching.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.