You can always tell when a couple is in a stable relationship. When you look at them together or apart, they both appear satisfied, relaxed, comfortable, and happy. A stable relationship makes both partners thrive as individuals, and enjoy their time together as a couple. So, you can really see when in the company of people who are lucky to be in such relationship.
Yet, this isn’t something that is given only to the lucky few; all of us can work on our relationships and turn them into a thriving and motivating force in our lives.
Studies have shown that all stable and healthy relationships share several important characteristics:
1. Couples explicitly show their feelings to each other
This means not only love and affection but anger and frustration as well. Stable relationships are not characterized by the absence of disagreement or discontent in some situations.
Even happy couples are still humans and do experience negative emotions as the rest of us. But, unlike in unhealthy relationships, partners in a stable relationship have an assertive way of communicating their feelings, all of them. That means that they don’t withdraw, aren’t passive aggressive, or plain aggressive for that matter, and don’t repress their emotions.
They express their discontent explicitly but respectfully and lovingly, and work on the issues as a couple (not as boxing partners as it usually happens in toxic relationships). And this is something that works in both ways – not only does a stable relationship promote such healthy expression of the entire range of emotions, but also if you start communicating your needs and views in an assertive manner, the relationship might also turn for the better.
2. Couples support each other’s growth as individuals
If you think of a person that you consider is in a stable and healthy relationship, you probably have a feeling of being in a presence of a fulfilled person, someone who is not only a part of a couple but is also a self-accomplished individual. This is because, unlike in unhealthy relationships, partners in stable relationships feel confident and safe.
As a result, they don’t feel insecure when their partner is trying new things, advancing their career, or learning a new hobby. When partners are insecure about each other and their partner’s commitment, they spend all their energy and rain themselves in attempts to keep the partner as close as possible. And their partner also can’t thrive in such unsupportive environment and often ends an underachiever.
But when partners are confident, they tend to be very supportive and enthusiastic about their loved one’s growth, and eager to share their own new experiences – which leads into the next shared characteristic of all stable relationships.
3. Partners constantly reconnect and rediscover each other
And this is, in part, done through talking about one’s passions, interests, and newly learned skills and experiences. By sharing their inner world with their partner, and by talking about how they spend their day (in detail, not just “Yeah, it was all right”), those in stable relationships keep rediscovering each other.
And, when one changes, as it inevitably happens with time, the other partner is not left out, but was there for the process and got a chance to adapt. Another way to reconnect each day is to touch each other in a non-sexual way, which is something couples in a stable relationship do all the time. This means hugging, holding hands, and just plain touch and closeness here and there.
Interestingly, apart from sexual intercourse, which can both be pushed aside or remain a vital component of even unstable relationships, it is almost a rule that if a relationship is erratic, these signs of affection almost vanish.
4. They work on their marriage and love all the time
It may sound dull to those accustomed to unpredictable and “exciting” relationships, but this is actually a sign of both partners being emotionally mature enough to develop a genuine and healthy attachment. So, what does working on a relationship look like?
It’s implementing all of the above, and also being open, providing reassurance to your partner about your relationship, using your social life to provide additional support to the relationship, and also seeing commitment as a positive thing in which responsibilities that come with it are something to be accepted with joy.
Being in a stable relationship is not something that just happens (or doesn’t). It takes some effort to learn to develop as a part of a couple, but when you get it right, it’s the most rewarding experience, possibly for a lifetime.