Here are some positive signs that your relationship is likely to last.
1. You and your significant other consider yourselves good friends. You don’t have to be “besties” with your partner, but if you don’t consider yourself friends, it’s likely that the relationship is going to have difficult times ahead when things get rocky, egos get bruised, or all you have is “each other” and you treat one another more poorly than you do your friends.
2. You consider yourselves a “couple,” but you each have your own interests, hobbies, and even a few “unshared” friends. (If you can’t trust your partner to hang with other people without serious doubts about fidelity, the relationship is already in a dangerous place.
3. You have shared values and beliefs about what a healthy relationship should be like or how to raise your kids or what’s important in the grander scheme of things in this crazy world you live in. Shared values, not shared interests, are the most faithful predictor of a healthy, lasting relationship. It’s okay if you want to spend the weekend watching sportsso long as you don’t begrudge a partner wanting to spend time doing something else – as long as you both enjoy spending time together more than any other singular pursuit.
4. You try out new things that your partner wants to do and your partner is willing to try out things that you’re interested in doing.
5. You and your partner can talk about what you want in terms of sexual intimacy and activities. If you’re too afraid or too shy to state your preferences, your partner will have a seriously difficult time trying to satisfy them.
6. You recognize that conflicts and disagreements are going to happen in any relationship, but you both see debates, discussions, or arguments as tools to get to a shared perspective or understanding. If you view fights as a way to gain power over your partner or the relationship, the discussion loses its power to be a tool of understanding.
7. You love your partner and revel in your partner’s successes on the job, on the playing field, and in life. You don’t feel threatened by a successful partner because you feel that you and your partner are on the same team.
8. You don’t punish your partner for having normal emotions or feelings. You may be a “sunny side up” type of person 24/7, but you aren’t going to try and guilt your partner if they are experiencing a bad day or a crappy mood. If a partner can’t be comfortable sharing their feelings with you for fear of your refusal to accept any negative feelings, the relationship is going to suffer from a serious case of “authenticity breakdown.” If people cannot be okay accepting that their partners might be having an “I’m NOT OK” kind of day, then one of two things might occur. One, the relationship may grind to a halt as the “normal ups and downs” partner grows increasingly remote. Two, the “normal ups and downs” partner may begin faking cheerfulness or biting their tongue to keep from lashing out. Either way, the relationship is unlikely to bring much long-term job for either partner no matter how long the couple tries to stick it out.
9. You are able to acknowledge that you and your partner are changing over time – whether it’s new jobs, new houses, new pets, or new kids. And, most important of all, you know that your relationship is growing as well! If people never changed, relationships wouldn’t have to, either. However, if people change and the relationship doesn’t, it won’t work long-term. And if one partner is trying to force a change into the relationship that doesn’t make sense for the couple, this can create an opportunity for shared reflection and exploration.
Sometimes one member of a couple grows at a pace different from a partner. That can create some “critical moments” in the relationship. However, if a couple recognizes these instances for what they are, they can be rich fodder for informing the future course of the relationship. This is when “that conversation” that needs to take place, but partners are fearful of broaching, can be the most productive.
Two people who fall deeply, madly in love are going to be at the same “relationship moment” for the length of that lusty early period of heightened physical attraction. You’re always thinking of your partner and your partner’s mind is always on you. This is an awesome experience and it lasts for a really tiny percentage of the lifespan of a truly “lifelong relationship.”
It’s important to immerse yourself in that sexy period of smittenhood! It is a space to lock down physical and emotional memories of just how amazing it feels to have that special person in your life.
When things get rocky, as most all relationship do on occasion, it’s important to have those memories of the early days as a touchpoint and a reminder of what your partner means to you. If the relationship ends up falling into the deep end and ends with a separation, don’t let go of the good parts of your time together. Life’s too short to dwell on heartbreak and hurt.
However, sometimes remembering just how your heart flipped the moment you first made eye contact, or the first time your hand brushed against your partner’s, or during that first kiss will help you handle the immediate conflict and focus on getting past it in order to keep the relationship moving forward and stretching to fit the new experiences and identities that you and your partner are falling into.