BY CAT LAFUENTE
No one gets married anticipating that they’ll one day divorce. And no one buys a home with their partner if they suspect one day they’ll be moving out. Yet 40 to 50 percent of married couples in America wind up getting divorced, which is a pretty significant number. Still, since approximately 50 percent of couples do stay married to each other, don’t fret: you very well could be part of the more optimistic statistic.
There are some pretty telltale signs that you and your boo can stand the test of time that are pretty easy to identify. Here’s how you can tell if you and your partner are likely to make it.
You maintain a crush on your partner
Remember how it felt when you first started dating your partner? Maybe you couldn’t stop writing their name down in your notebook, or maybe you were prone to buying little gifts for them all the time. However, now that those pheromones have subsided, are you still doing those little things? If so, that’s a good thing.
Kimberly Hershenson, a NYC-based therapist affirmed this, noting, “If you still remember what it was like when you were dating and are bringing some of those behaviors into the relationship, such as texting your partner in the middle of the day to let them know you’re thinking of them, buying them their favorite treat as a surprise, or kissing them goodbye and saying you can’t wait to see them later, these are all great signs your relationship will last.”
You have date nights
Life can be pretty hectic for most couples. Between maintaining a home, taking care of kids, and managing your careers, it can be easy to let your relationship take a back burner. But if you naturally carve out alone time together with your sweetie, that’s a fortuitous sign that you’re nurturing your bond.
One way you’re already doing this, according to Hershenson, is if “you set aside one night a week for ‘date night in’ by setting the table, putting out candles, and having a delicious meal together.” That can keep you dialed into each other and well-connected. Additionally, even if you decide to go out, you’re still connecting if you, as per Hershenson, “turn off electronics and focus on conversation. These are great signs your relationship is going in the right direction.” The key is to observe that time you spend alone together as special.
You’re still having sex
It might be a topic too taboo for the dinner table, but one sign that you and your sweetie have longevity on your side is if you’re still having regular sex. That’s because regular intimacy — even if you have to schedule it — will help you reduce tension and protect your partnership from the regular, less-sexy stresses of life, which sets you up for long-term success.
And non-sexual touch is important, too, as Hershenson noted, “It’s a great sign if you physically touch [each] other whether it’s a kiss hello or goodbye, snuggling on the couch, or holding hands. Even non-sexual touching builds connection between partners.” So if you’re physically connecting, you’ll be emotionally connected as well.
You find happiness in everyday things together
Most relationships are super easy in the beginning when you’re both feeling the rush of hormones and chemicals, constantly swooning over each other in a dopamine-fueled haze. Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and business owner concurred, telling me, “The beginnings of relationships are exciting and filled with passion.”
But every couple will have to deal with changes once you move out of the honeymoon phase. He continued, saying, “A lot of that naturally fades and a successful couple has to find happiness in the daily joys and struggles of life. If you and your partner love the little things about each other and can enjoy spending time together just ‘doing nothing,’ it’s a good sign your relationship will last.” So if you take joy in cooking a meal, going to the gym, or binge watching Netflix together, that’s a sign you’re doing things right.
You’re willing to compromise
The ability to compromise is important for success in many aspects of life, whether you’re collaborating with coworkers or strategizing girls’ night out with your besties. Naturally, your romantic relationship will also thrive when you’ve both have honed your ability to give and take.
As Bennett noted, “A long lasting relationship requires flexible individuals who are willing to give a little (and sometimes a lot) to ensure mutual happiness. If you and your partner are good at finding solutions that make you both happy, it’s a good indicator that you’ll be successful in the future.”
That can be manifest in many ways, such as trading who gets to pick the movie for date night, or bigger things like moving to a new city for a partner’s career opportunity. If you’re both receiving the benefits of compromise over time, you’re on the right track.
You’ve overcome adversity
It’s somewhat inevitable in life that you’ll fall on bad times occasionally, whether that means losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, or enduring a traumatic event. But as tough as things can get, there can be a silver lining if you’ve endured hardship together with your partner.
According to Bennett, “If you’ve been through adversity together and your relationship grew stronger, it’s a good sign you can handle anything that comes your way.” And there’s another possible benefit, too. Bennett went on, “Not only that, but overcoming adversity as couple bonds you to each other. Consequently, your relationship has a better chance of lasting.” Adversity, then, is not all bad if you’ve gotten through it together.
You fight fair
Conflict is a natural occurrence and happens in just about every human relationship, whether between parent and child, sister and brother, or among romantic partners. Shula Melamed, a relationship and wellness coach, has observed this, telling me, “There is a chance if you are together with someone for a long time you are not going to agree on everything.”
And if you’re going to make it last with your significant other, you have to learn how to fight fair. She continued, “What predicts your ability to weather these storms is the ability to fight fair and make up afterward. It is a sign of respect and acknowledgement of one’s own responsibilities in disagreements. These moments can also lead to constructive conversations about what is going on between the two for you, forging greater emotional intimacy.” So if you’re not fighting dirty or fighting all the time, you’ll avoid negative fallout from poor conflict management.
You appreciate and encourage the other’s growth
People are dynamic individuals, all of whom will grow and change over time. That means that your partner is going to change, too, and it’s important to let them.
As Melamed observed, “If you are with someone for a lifetime there is a chance that they and you will acquire all kinds of different interests, passions, viewpoints, and needs. Of course we want the other person to be reliable and dependable but we shouldn’t expect them to be frozen developmentally or emotionally just to suit our needs.”
So make sure you’re giving them the space they need to thrive, and vice-versa, according to Melamed, who continued, “Loving someone for a long time means growing together and allowing each other the space to explore themselves while maintaining a strong bond with each other. This will also make life richer and more dynamic as the years go by — something to be grateful for rather than threatened by.”
You’re curious about each other
Do you ask your partner how their day was when they get home from work — and genuinely want to hear a detailed answer? Do they ask the same of you, sincerely? If so, that’s a signal that you’re curious about each other, which is a positive thing according to Alice Roberts, a certified social worker.
She told me, “Curiosity about your spouse signals the desire to be learning more about each other. Curious couples view their partners with a sense of wonder and excitement.” And that curiosity can come in handy during an argument, too. She continued, “Curious couples want to understand why their partner feels the way they do rather than reacting defensively when disagreements come up.”
You both make the relationship a priority
It’s common knowledge that maintaining a long-term relationship takes meaningful, intentional work from both partners. So what does that look like?
Lesli Doares, a relationship consultant and coach, said, “This means that sufficient time, energy, and intention are devoted to making sure the relationship is working for each of you. Open communication, the willingness to accept difficult evaluations, the courage to be vulnerable, and the commitment to make the necessary alterations in behavior for the benefit of the whole are all consistently happening.” If that’s already happening naturally for your partnership, then the odds for longevity are already in your favor.
You can both be constructively critical
Have you ever had to ask your partner to change their habits? Has your partner ever pointed out that you’re doing something unhealthy? In either case, people in healthy, long-lasting relationships would not consider either one of these to be an affront.
According to Licensed Psychotherapist Marc Zola, in happy and healthy relationships “you and your partner don’t view each other’s occasional criticisms as scorn or disdainful remarks. Well intended people with whom we are connected are not intending to ‘put us down’ with a criticism. They may simply be requesting a change in behavior.”
And if you do take issue to constructive, compassionate criticism? Zola continued, “To the extent that an individual views his or her partner’s criticism as scorn, that individual is demonstrating doubt of the partner’s good intentions; and that is a relational toxin.”
You value each other’s opinions
Not everyone wants to be the big decision maker in a partnership, instead preferring to have the more assertive partner call most of the shots. But no matter how passive you are (or are not), it’s important that your partner listens to you in an active manner.
Sarah Clark, a licensed therapist, told me, “One of the most important keys to a healthy relationship is that both partners respect and encourage the other’s input and opinions. They also show that they value what the other thinks by accepting their influence when making decisions.” So as long as you and your partner check in with each other about decisions and make sure each of you are being heard, your relationship can weather any number of storms.
You’re polite to each other
Never underestimate the power of being polite, especially in your romantic partnership. In fact, your relationship is more likely to last if you say please and thank you, and afford other pleasantries to one another.
Nina Rifkind, a psychotherapist, told me how much that matters. “Something so simple can seem insignificant, but research shows that one predictor of longevity in a relationship is being polite to each other on a consistent basis. It makes a lot of sense when you think about the bigger picture,” she said.
Additionally, being polite prevents fights. Rifkind continued, “The habit of using basic pleasantries can curb the tendency to let disagreements escalate into ugly arguments, and helps keep appreciation and kindness in the forefront of a relationship.”