Just speaking for myself (male), I had to go through a lot of very bad relationships, counseling, therapy, Recovery work, a mountain of books, an ocean of tears, a world of pain, some spirituality & religion, the web and just about anything and everything to finally learn how to make a good relationship. My now wife went through pretty much the same stuff to also learn.
We are both 2nd timers, married 20 years and expect this one to last until the end of our little adventure here on earth. She has 2 grown kids, I have none.
If you want to learn as we did or even quicker, look for books on "Relationships" (tons of them in stores and libraries), go on line, find a counselor or support group, church or whatever you like - it's your life!
When we first met, we made a promise to be each others very best, most loving, honorable and eternal FRIEND. I had realized in recovery that I never was and didn't even know how to be anyones friend or loyal partner. So it seemed to me that my next alliance would have to be built on friendship first and foremost. My now wife agreed and off we went.
Through relationship skills we learned that the top most element of a good relationship is TRUTH & 100% honesty ALL THE TIME - not just when you feel like it. This is a very deep subject but the bottom line is that the partners have to be WILLING to speak and show the truth and be totally honest in all and any matters. No secrets, no lies, no hiding, no dodging, no excuses, no sneaking around, no DENIAL, no phony stuff, etc. That was hard for me after a life of lying and denying, etc. but we got there. We do not 'spill our guts' or dump any and everything on each other but we are honest and up front with all the important stuff and are willing to share anything with each other upon request!
When total honesty takes hold in a relationship, total trust follows, then total love and commitment and other wonderful things too many to cover here.
In relationship skills we learned how to express RESPECT, the 2nd most powerful aspect of a good relationship.
Respect, like honesty, is a very, very deep subject and includes: loyalty, friendship, affection, honor, dignity, responsibility, good communications, great sex, reliability, good self esteem, and a lot of other things that you will learn about
As with honesty, I was not very good about Respect, for myself or others. I had to take the time to learn exactly what Respect is and how to express/offer it. When I started working on my 'problems', I spent a lot of time with books and 12 meetings to both learn and define many things I had ignored or taken for granted. I had no idea what honesty, respect or loyalty was because I had bad parental role models in childhood and all my values were messed up. My now wife was a little better with her values so we quickly put into operation the principles and skills relationship work was teaching us. It is amazing to be in a loving, trusting, respectful relationship so totally different from our previous, faulty marriages. I only regret that I did not know this stuff years before.
What I currently believe about a relationship is that you have to KNOW HOW to make it work 'cos love and sex ain't enough and will fail if you don't know how. Also, once you start, it's a continuing process and your relationship can get better and better as you learn and practice more and more principles.
So if your REALLY, REALLY want good relationship, look it up and start learning how. It's quick, easy, fun and the best favor you will ever do your mate, kids, family, friends and YOUR SELF.
good luck and let us know how you fared.