By Alan C. Fox

I describe relationships and love as a “journey from me to us.” As romantic as that sounds, it also implies a lot of hard work. Two unique people with distinct tastes, thoughts, feelings, ambitions, and personalities are now sharing a single life. And no matter how perfectly compatible you are, you’re bound to face challenges along the way.

I’m a pragmatist at heart and so I like to use “tools” to help me navigate the challenging terrain of relationships and love. In fact I’ve developed many of them for my new book on relationship advice and love advice, People Tools for Love and Relationships: The Journey from Me to Us.

Below are my top five pieces of relationship and love advice:

1. Be (not find) the right person: Many of us spend years of our lives searching for the perfect person to build a life with. But we’re often disappointed to find that our prince or princess charming turns out to be imperfect. It’s just as important to learn how to be the right person as it is to find the right person. Work on perfecting yourself, rather than endlessly searching for that perfect other.

Related Link: Love Advice: How to Make Your Partner Happy in 5 Minutes a Day

2. The Best Defense is No Defense: While having a strong defense is helpful on the battlefield, being defensive in your relationships can cause serious problems. If your partner is upset with you or offers criticism, rather than automatically defending yourself, try adopting an “intent to learn,” and quietly listen to their point to learn what they have to say.

Related Link: Dating Advice: 10 Kissing Tips to Read Before Your Next Makeout Session

3. It’s a Movie, Not a Snapshot: It’s all-too-easy to lose sight of the big picture during times of emotional strain and conflict. In times like these you need to remember that your relationship is more like a movie than a snapshot. It’s a series of events and memories, and not a single particular event.

4. More Is Not Always Better: I often refer to relationships as “a journey from me to us,” because sharing your life with another requires surrendering a degree of your independence. Each of you should maintain your own interests, hobbies, and time to yourselves.

5. Apologize: This is the simplest and most effective thing you can do when fighting with your partner. Yet it’s often the most difficult, especially when you’re convinced that you’re right, which is most of the time, if not always. You have to put aside your pride and be willing to compromise on some points, even when you feel strongly about them.

Alan C. Fox is the author of “People Tools for Love and Relationships,” as well as two other bestselling People Tools books. He is a real estate investor, philanthropist, mentor, and founder of Rattle poetry journal. Visit www.peopletoolsbook.com.