We all know “that couple.” The one that seems stable. The one you think will be together forever. The one that, when you look up #relationshipgoals, you see their picture. You may be envious and wonder how those couples do it. Relationships are complicated, and every relationship is different. It turns out, though, that there are some habits that couples in stable, long-term relationships have in common.
No relationship is easy, and they often take a lot of effort. Your friend’s perfect relationship may have been born of a lot of blood, sweat, and sometimes tears. Think about what kind of relationships you want in life. If you are willing to do the work, these habits from long-term relationships are worth stealing. You may become the #relationshipgoals of your friend group.
1. They Know How to Communicate
Every couple I know in a long-term relationship says communication is key, hands down. Almost anything can be overcome with good communication. The thing is, even in relationships, communication is hard. It takes knowing how to listen and how to talk frankly and honestly.
One way is to make a behavior change request in a clear, non-accusatory way. Positive communication is key to building a healthy, happy, and strong relationship. Not talking is one reason why couples consider seeing a couple’s counselor.
2. They Know How to Fight
It takes two to tango, as they say. So, there are always two parts to any argument. Another lesser-known saying is: there can be no conflict resolution without the conflict. Okay, I made that one up. But most arguments turn into big, knock-down fights when issues aren’t addressed and resolved. That means conflict is necessary but, when handled right, can be resolved.
First, it’s essential to know when to harp on issues and when to let them go. If you do decide the issue is important to you, be respectful and take responsibility for your part in any conflict. It’s not about getting your way. It’s about making sure you both feel respected. Not only do successful couples know how to fight, they understand the importance of not going to bed mad.
3. They Aren’t Too Serious
As a result of knowing how to fight, people in long-term relationships also remember to spend time having fun and laughing together. Research tells us that shared laughter is an indicator of how healthy your relationship is. Makes sense, right? Although knowing how to fight is essential, no one wants a relationship without laughter and fun.
4. They Expect and Embrace Change
Nothing stays the same, not even you or the person you are in a relationship with. Couples in long-term relationships know and accept this. Growing and changing together is healthy for a relationship. Recognizing this and going with the flow is part of a healthy relationship.
5. They Talk about Finances
Sure, talking about money is uncomfortable. One of you may be a saver, the other a spender. Or you have different ideas about what it is essential to spend your money on. Or one person shoulders more responsibility for making sure bills get paid on time. Fighting about money is one of the most common reasons for divorce.
6. They Keep Their Sense of Self
Spending time together and sharing interests is essential, but that doesn’t mean you are clones of each other. A healthy balance between individual pursuits and common interests keep the relationship exciting. You like lifting weights. She likes running. No big deal.
7. They Appreciate Each Other, and They Show It
It’s easy to take the people in your life for granted. People in long-term relationships make it a habit to show appreciation with caring behaviors. Making this a habit will help make your relationship more solid. Don’t fall into the trap of forgetting to do those little things that show someone you love them. Grand gestures are nice, but I feel loved when I get in my car in the morning and see that my partner has cleaned the condensation off my car window.
Full disclosure, in my friend group, I am half of “that couple.” And my best advice is to remember that all relationships have problems and make an effort to succeed. In a long-term relationship, you won’t live happily ever after. But you can live happily, sadly, angrily, and joyfully ever after. And that’s just right.