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The Most Important Thing In A Relationship, According To Taylor Hill

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Anyone in a long-term union will tell you that a lot of hard work is involved. And while there are hundreds of differing viewpoints about what the most important thing in a relationship actually is, there really is no right answer as every couple is different in their needs. That said, even the most picturesque duos have their non-negotiables that keep the wheels going — just ask Taylor Hill.

The Zoe Report recently caught up with the supermodel — who (appropriately enough) is celebrating her new role as Global Ambassador for Ralph Lauren Fragrance’s Romance franchise — and talked all things love. The Colorado native got candid about her five-year relationship with actor and model Michael Stephen Shank as well as what’s kept the fire burning over the years.

The answer to the latter was surprisingly simple, and not exactly what you'd expect. “For us, it’s really about respecting each other and open-minded communication,” she said. “We always make sure to be honest with one another and share how we feel.”

Hill’s not alone in her thoughts. While most assume communication tops the relationship list, it seems a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T comes first for many as it allows everything else (including said communication) to fall into place. Case in point: According to a 2017 Business Insider survey of 1,500 couples, the thing people with marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was, that's right, respect. “The only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both to the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another, the fact that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another — often more than you each believe in yourselves — and trust that your partner is doing his/her best with what they've got,” wrote author Mark Manson.

This certainly seems to be the case with Hill and Shank. Their mutual respect for each other makes equally important things like communication and prioritizing time together, well, priorities. And considering the two juggle demanding careers that send them all over the world, that second component is not always an easy task, but they make it work. “Making time for each other is like making a point to be together,” Hill said. “If he has to come with me to a certain location while I’m working, then we try to have fun while we’re there. We get to go these extremely crazy places that not everyone gets to go to, so we try to create experiences together if we can.”

No matter where life takes them, Hill said the couple makes sure to always enjoy each other and keep things light. "We focus on having fun and being nice to each other because life’s too short to be unhappy," Hill said.

While it's easy to enjoy your partner with an exotic destination or location in play, Hill advised to never underestimates the power of small gestures. In fact, when discussing the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, the model said she appreciates the little (and most cliché) things: “Even if he gets me flowers and chocolates like he does every year [...] it'll show he's thinking of me — which is so nice. It’s the little things we do for each other that are important.”