Ever wish there was a magic formula that you could follow to ensure that your relationship would go the long term? A guide that presented the steps you need to follow so that you and your partner live a happily-ever-after?
Well, it isn’t exactly magic, but there are some common points that happy, long term relationship share. Let’s have a look at these qualities of lasting relationships and see what we can learn.
1. They committed to each other for all the right reasons
Couples boasting 20, 30 or 40 years of marriage (or more) tell us that they chose each other for the right reasons. They didn’t marry because of societal pressure, or because they were lonely, or because one of them was looking at their partner to “fix” a bad childhood or other trauma.
No, they married because they loved their partner for who he was right then and there (not marrying his “potential”, but his “now”), and they felt a meaningful connection with them. They also state that they came into the relationship with little or no unresolved emotional baggage, so they were of a healthy mind frame when committing to their partner.
2. They did not expect marriage to be the answer to all life’s problems
Long term couples entered into their marriage with realistic expectations.
They were deeply in love, of course, but also recognized that their partner could not fulfill all the roles necessary for a balanced life. They did not expect their partner to be the breadwinner, the best friend, the sports coach, the life coach, the babysitter, the therapist, and vacation planner as well as a financial genius.
They realized that everyone has their strong and weak points, and for the latter, outsourcing is key to a couple’s sustainability. They also recognized the importance of keeping outside friendships going and forming new ones, so that both partners can do things independent of each other.
Older couples cited an awareness that love ebbs and flows, and that marriage would not mean passion and fireworks every day of the year. They powered through the low days, knowing that eventually love rights its course and the connection comes back if one is willing to work through the tough times.
3. For love to last, respect must be ever-present
You don’t need respect to fall in lust.
That’s the stuff of one-night-stands. But for true enduring love, a couple needs to respect and admire each other. You want to look for someone whose values, ethics and morals are in line with yours.
If they aren’t, it is unlikely the relationship will deepen and be meaningful. And, respect is definitely one of the main qualities of lasting relationships.
4. Respectful communication is present, even when arguing
Couples celebrating many years of married life say that they communicate well, even when conflict arises.
They do not resort to name-calling or bringing up past ills when fighting. They work towards compromise and a kind way, listening to each other’s point of view and validating it to show they have been heard. They know that what is said can never be unsaid, so they keep that in mind when discussions turn heated.
The last thing they ever want to do is hurt the one they love the most (even when they are arguing).
5. Self-love comes first
Take a look at some long-term couples and you will notice that they practice self-care as well as caring for each other. They work to maintain their physical and mental health.
This means that they give time to practice a sport that they enjoy. If their partner is not on board with their preference, no big deal, they will do their own thing. One might be a runner, the other more of a yoga fan, and they allow for these alone times as they know this is part of a healthy relationship.
If one or the other feels the need to work on some mental issues with an outside therapist, there is support and encouragement for this.
A healthy relationship is the makeup of two healthy individuals, and long term couples know this.
6. Forgiveness is always at hand
“Never go to bed angry” is the common advice we’ve all heard, and long term couples take this seriously. Sure, they fight. But they work through the issue, taking the time needed to reach a resolution, and then they put it behind them.
“I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” are part of their vocabulary. They don’t hold a grudge, and, as mentioned above, they do not pull out old anger to fuel the fire of a new disagreement. What is past is past, and it is forgiven. And like respect, forgiveness is one of the key qualities of lasting relationships.
7. They connect in many ways, including sex
Yes, even couples celebrating their 50th anniversary will attest to the benefits a good sex brings to their relationship. There are lulls in libido, certainly, but long term couples will always find their way back to the bedroom eventually. If they find sex tapering off, they know this means something else is off in the relationship and they do not hesitate to ask their partner what’s going on.
Regular sex is important for staying connected.
8. They don’t forget the little things
Do you know how new couples pay attention to the small gestures of romance? How they bring flowers, send each other sexy texts, and give gifts “for no reason”?
Long term couples don’t stop doing this after the first blush of early love faded.
A surprise bouquet, a love note just to say “I’m thinking of you”…these little touches still mean a lot and keep the connection going over the years. And these are definitely the qualities of lasting relationships.