We’ve all seen the movie: boy meets girl, sparks fly, and they live happily ever after. But is that REALLY the way love works? Actually, no. The truth is that you can and must IMPROVE your relationship skills – to help you find and build happiness in a long-term relationship. Here are the 7 essential relationship skills: 1. Communication: This category involves critically important skills: knowing how to listen, sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly, refraining from criticizing and encouraging your partner to share his or her feelings. 2. Conflict Resolution: Conflict-resolution skills include techniques such as staying focused on the topic, staying focused on the present, being ready to forgive or apologize, knowing when to take a break. 3. Knowledge of Partner: What’s his shirt size? What’s his favorite food? After communication, simply knowing a lot about your partner is a powerful way of showing that you care, and makes you better equipped to tend to his or her ongoing needs. 4. Life Skills: Do you plan for emergencies? Do you exercise and stay fit? Studies show that people usually want their partners to contribute a degree of security to a long-term relationship. People also want their partners to take good care of themselves. 5. Self-Management: This is not the same as life skills. People who are skilled at self-management take inventories of their strengths and weaknesses and always strive for improvement. They know how to interpret disturbing events in positive ways and they work hard to reach their goals. 6. Sex and Romance: People with strong skills in these areas inquire and care about how to please their partner sexually, set aside time for intimacy, refrain from blaming their partner when sex doesn’t go smoothly, and try to stay physically attractive for their partner. 7. Stress management: Do you know how to use breathing, meditation, or imagery techniques to help you fight stress? If you know how to avoid or fight stress, you’ll be better able to love and support your partner.