No one can predict the future — especially when it comes to relationships— but researchers and other experts have zeroed in on healthy behaviors that lead to romantic longevity.
“The most successful marriages, the ones that don’t suck, are the ones where the partners understand, respect, and appreciate each other,” say the New York Times best-selling authors (and spouses) Amiira Ruotola and Greg Behrendt, who are releasing “How to Keep Your Marriage from Sucking” in July. “It’s harder than it sounds.”
Here are six signs that your relationship is going to last for the long haul.
1. You’re both great at speaking and listening
The old adage that “communication is key” certainly holds true when it comes to healthy relationships. Ruotola says that both individuals in a relationship should feel free to speak openly and feel like they’re being heard. On the flipside, each needs to be able to truly listen.
“Communication feels safe and nurturing when each partner feels empowered and supported in the relationship,” she said.
Signs of good communication include asking follow-up questions, building on what the other says, and taking actions based on what the other says, Behrendt said.
Plus, healthy couples keep the important conversations face-to-face. A study by Brigham Young University found that couples who text too much — especially when it comes to making decisions, apologizing, or working out differences — often experience “lower relationship quality.”
2. You become more and more intimate — and not just sexually
Most people think of sex when they hear “intimacy,” but the word really means closeness, togetherness, and affinity between two people.
“It is a shared activity. From eye contact and hand-holding to having a baby and going through cancer, it is the vigilant assurance that ‘Hey, I’m right here,'” Behrendt said. “Sex is often mistaken for intimacy and is a result of great intimacy.”
In lasting relationships, there is continual growth in intimacy, Ruotola said. “Intimacy flourishes when your priorities as a couple are your joint needs versus one’s individual needs.” She notes that signs of intimacy are vulnerability, alignment, acceptance, a feeling of safety, and desired closeness.
However, that’s not to knock knocking boots. According to “Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study,” published by The National Bureau of Economic Research, sexual frequency is associated with greater overall happiness. Or, as the study put it, “The more sex, the happier the person.”
3. You have a synergistic connection
The connection between two people — essentially the energy between you that draws you together — is healthiest when it’s synergistic rather than symbiotic, Ruotola said.
“Synergy is when two people’s individual efforts produce an effect greater than the sum of those individual efforts (1 + 1 = 3). Awesome, right?” she said. “Symbiosis is basically codependency, which at first can feel great because being needed feels good, and everyone loves a project! But, ultimately, codependency can be destructive.”
For example, Behrendt said his and Ruotola’s synergistic connection has yielded their children, friends, and shared career.
Signs of a lasting connection are buoyant energy, shared experience, and desired closeness, he said.
4. You never have to question the trust between you
Trust is the cornerstone of a relationship, but it’s something you’re only aware of when it’s called into question, Ruotola said. “A successful relationship can be measured by how infrequently either has to think about [trust] or question trusting their partner.”
Signs of great trust are shared goals, values, morals, and actions that empower your partner, showing your faith in him or her.
Just think about the level of trust you place in a best friend — you should feel that same trust with your partner. In fact, according to “How’s Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness,” a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, individuals who consider their spouse their best friend are nearly twice as satisfied in their relationships.
5. You approach problems with mutual respect for one another’s ideas
Relationships of all kinds inevitably encounter roadblocks, and the way you and your partner approach such problems says a lot about your relationship.
“Problem-solving as a unit is exhilarating when you appreciate and respect the perspective and ideas that each person brings to the table,” Ruotola said. “Being unyielding or uncollaborative is like strapping a bomb to the relationship. Signs of good problem solving in a relationship are respect and feeling of equal importance.”
Behrendt said that, in order to effectively problem-solve together, you first need to agree that there is a problem or at least hear that your partner has a problem. Then, remain flexible. Keep in mind that, even if you have an answer, “you never have the solution. You have a solution. It may end up being the solution, but, at the beginning, all ideas are welcome. If you are unwilling to compromise, you will come up with a compromised solution. Every time. It will never be as good as it could have been.”
6. You provide unwavering emotional support for each other
Signs of emotional support include nurturing, loyalty, and sacrifice.
Emotional support is one of the pillars of lasting relationships, Ruotola said. “Anyone can drive you to the airport or help you move, but only your person will take on your boss or your family to protect or defend you.” She said signs of healthy emotional support include nurturing, loyalty, and sacrifice.
Further, according to “Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to positive event disclosures,” a study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “relationship well-being” was found to be more closely associated with how couples celebrate positive events in their lives versus how they fight.
Linda and Charlie Bloom, a married couple who are both trained as psychotherapists,wrote about the study in Psychology Today: “[The] study found that people who show the most enthusiasm for their partner’s achievements have the least conflict in their relationship, enjoy more fun and relaxing activities, and have the most relationship satisfaction.”
Culled from Business Insider.