Steve Ward -- relationship guru and host of VH1's Tough Love Couples -- shares his advice for couples. From red flags to watch out for to three things every couple should agree on, here's his take on making it work.
By Susan Waits for TheNest.com
Hey, relationships can be tough. So we jumped at the chance to talk with matchmaker, relationship coach, and host of VH1's Tough Love Couples Steve Ward. The show shines a spotlight on couples who've been on the rocks and unable to completely commit. Ward puts them through "Tough Love Bootcamp" to help them find out if they're made to last. In the end, couples either get engaged or part ways. Read on for Ward's tips on blending lives, sharing it all, and being selfless.
When, in your opinion, is a couple really ready for a commitment as big as marriage?
Steve Ward: When they achieve selflessness. You have to put the other person before yourself. When you learn to give more than you anticipate getting, your relationship will develop to a whole new level. Even if you're already married, your bond will grow stronger when you can accept that fully.
What are the biggest red flags pre-marriage?
SW: A wandering eye. If he's always looking to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, that fence is only going to get lower once you get married.
What are the three biggest things every couple should agree on?
SW: Sex, kids, and religion.
One of the biggest struggles for young couples is merging households and lifestyles. Any tips?
SW: Share and compromise! You have to balance each other out. Whatever the situation, whatever the stress, you have to work together. It's certainly a challenge to combine homes and blend lifestyles, but you have to try to enjoy the challenge and deal with it in a positive way. If there is something in particular you really want, you have to be persistent but also understanding of the other person.
What are the key elements that make up a great relationship?
SW: You have to have openness, trust, communication, and respect. Only then, when you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable, when you lower your defenses and truly open up to that other person, do you allow others to fully love you.
What if you hit a rough patch? When is it time to consider counseling?
SW: When it starts getting abusive. People have a hard time defining abuse and understanding what it really is, but it can be verbal or emotional. It's all in how you perceive abuse and what is right or wrong for you. If you recognize that it's a problem, communicate it to your partner. Then you should both express your feelings, but invite an outside ear to mediate. A professional counselor will weigh in with an objective and impartial position, which can be a great help. Ultimately, love is when another person's happiness is essential to you. For more of Ward's relationship advice, and to watch episodes of Tough Love Couples online, visit VH1.com.
Photo: VH1/ The Nest
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