Here’s something you might not have anticipated hearing from a Houston relationship counseling center: your personality when you married isn’t necessarily the same as your personality now. A study released in 2012 from the University of Manchester had 7,500 subjects complete a personality questionnaire, then asked them to complete the questionnaire again 4 years later. It found that different elements of their subjects’ personalities—such as introversion, conscientiousness, and being open to new experiences—frequently changed over that period of time.

So what does that mean for your long-term relationship? Are you doomed to suffer from marriage issues as you and your partner change over time? Not necessarily. I believe the key to a healthy relationship is understanding how your interpersonal dynamics may change, being open and flexible, and staying honest with your partner.

Tips for Making Your Relationship Work Long-Term from Houston Relationship Counseling

Share in new experiences. The reason why our personality evolves over time is because we keep having new life experiences that influence us. Spend time doing new activities with your partner so that you build more shared experiences and memories.

Be a good listener if your partner is going through a major upheaval. Sometimes there will be things in your partner’s life that you can’t experience with them directly—a major crisis at work, a fight with a sibling, a death in their family. These are the kinds of major life events that will continue to shape your partner, so be willing to listen to your partner about what they’re going through. For some of these bigger events, it may even be wise to look into Houston relationship counseling to help you through it.

Be patient. If you get into an argument and your partner says or does something unexpected, don’t just resort to yelling, “You’re not the person I married!” Far too many marriage issues arise from this kind of accusation. Instead, ask your partner why they acted or spoke the way that they did in an attempt to gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from.

Set aside time to talk. Preserving a long-term relationship requires time and effort. You need to work hard to set aside time to sit down with your partner and work through marriage issues. Sometimes this can difficult to do on your “home turf,” so many people find it beneficial to come into Houston relationship counseling where everyone is on neutral ground.