By Ricky Peterson

Everyone wants to have a great long term relationship that keeps on getting better, but it simply won’t happen without some effort on the part of both partners.  Making a stable relationship work isn’t always easy, though, as we see many a famous couple going through their ups and downs in public via tabloids … and it’s no different for us regular folk.

That said, here are four things that we can all work on to make our own relationships stronger, and a couple of well known examples from the celebrity world for some do’s and don’ts:

Be prepared to listen to each other

Listening is the hallmark of all good relationships.  If you don’t listen to your partner, or they don’t listen to you, how can you hope to develop a good relationship for the long haul?  Talking is good, too, but recognize when listening is required of you and practice doing it more often.  Everyone feels more valued when their partner sits and really listens to them.  Listening means comprehending and not just making the right noises in the right places!

Related: 10 Ways to Rekindle Romance

Don’t ignore problems — they’ll only get worse

You cannot hope to go through life with no problems at all.  There might be minor setbacks in your relationship or problems that occur outside the relationship that affect you both.  The trick is to never ignore them and to confront them head-on.  Talk about these issues, and decide how to tackle them as a team.  It’s bound to make you stronger.

Celebrity Example: Seal and Heidi Klum are a classic example, where Seal’s reported anger management issues seem to have caused a rift in their relationship.  This is the sort of thing that if worked on early could have been resolved, possibly saving the relationship.

Related: Heidi Klum and Seal — What Blew Up Their Marriage?

Never wait for the other person to apologize

The apologies have to come from both partners, of course, otherwise one of you will always be saying “sorry” even when the other one does something they shouldn’t.  You’ve probably heard the idea that you should never go to bed angry, and that definitely applies in this case.

Be positive in lots of little ways

We would all benefit from being more positive in our daily lives.  For example, if your partner has a job interview, be sure to call them just before they go in to provide some support.  Then, call them afterward as well to see how it went.  You could even plan a dinner to mark the event, whether they were successful or not.  You can either congratulate them on getting the job, or provide support and let them know the experience was still a positive one because it will help them gain experience for a the future.

Celebrity Example: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have had their ups and downs, but recent reports of a date night show that they are at least making the effort.  Sadly, the media is much more into reporting on couples who are having problems than those who are happy, but little bits of effort like this can make all the difference.  Let’s hope it works out for these guys.

It is easier than you think to build a strong relationship that will survive the test of time.  Be sure you know how to make the most of your relationship, and start putting more effort into it today for the best results in the future.

Ricky Peterson is a writer who works for passionsearch, an online dating site.