How Do I Know If My Relationship is Built to Last?
It's a question all of us likely ponder at some point in dating relationships and at times, even within our marriage. How do we know if our relationship has staying power? What qualities are we supposed to be looking for? Some of them are fairly obvious to us, while others we might easily be able to talk ourselves out of or find reasons why those things are big asks. Many of our "have-to-haves" within relationships could be grounded in the family environment we grew up with, what we grew up not getting from our family, culturally-based, personal values, or based on societal perceptions. As you look through the questions provided from the Psychology Today article linked below, think about whether every question fits with your own personal needs and values. I've added some questions onto many of the questions for further clarification and understanding, and to generate further discussion between yourself and your partner if you'd like to assess together. If you've never considered where some of the preferences you hold may come from, take a moment to sit with if you personally believe having what the question asks is important to you. The questions here are geared toward long-term relationships and are designed to help you determine if your relationship is "hall-of-fame worthy" or if there might be things one or both partners is looking for in a relationship that the other person is willing to work toward or ultimately incapable of providing.
Does your partner make you a better person, and do you do the same for them? Can you find clear evidence of this in your lives together?
Are you and your partner both comfortable with sharing feelings, relying on each other, being close, and able to avoid worrying about the other person leaving? Why or why not? What would you like to see from your partner that might make this better?
Do you and your partner accept each other for who you are, without trying to change each other? If there are things you wish would change, are those changes vital to the relationship continuing?
When disagreements arise, do you and your partner communicate respectfully and without contempt or negativity? Did you grow up watching parents or caregivers communicate in the same way(s) you find yourself relating to your significant other? Are those patterns you want to keep in your current relationship?
Do you and your partner share decision-making, power and influence in the relationship? Would you like for the partnership to be more equal or to communicate more if one person is "in charge" of certain aspects, e.g., finances, decision-making, budgeting, discipline of children, etc.?
Is your partner your best friend, and are you theirs? Feeling connected with our partners and sharing "our world" with them is important, whether that world is the day-to-day child rearing for a stay-at-home mom/dad up to the minor or major details of our workday and the conversations we had or frustrations we experienced.
Do you and your partner think more in terms of “we” and “us,” rather than “you” and “I”? Are you both generally taking the other's perspective into consideration when making decisions or planning life together?
Would you and your partner trust each other with the passwords to social media and bank accounts? Trust is a HUGE part of a relationship. If this is lacking, some serious work may need to be done in order for things to continue.
Do you and your partner have good opinions of each other – without having an overinflated positive view? Can you and your partner, outside of moments of frustration with one another, speak highly and kindly of each other? Can you find/see areas where they add more positively to your life than negatively?
Do your close friends, as well as your partner’s, think you have a relationship that will stand the test of time? In relationship with one another, we have to be willing to incorporate one another into our "world", whether that's with friends, family, job acquaintances, or other vital connections. We SHOULD want to be involved in each other's world and open to getting to know the people closest to our partners as well. Those people should also be open to incorporating you into their lives, and if they have struggles of their own with that, then addressing this openly with our partners will likely limit issues over time.
Is your relationship free of red flags like cheating, jealousy, and controlling behavior? Relationships should be a partnership. If your partner doesn't value fidelity to the relationship with you, can't trust you, or just seeks to be "in charge" of you, that's usually a sign of some unhealthy patterns in the relationship that need to be addressed.
Do you and your partner share the same values when it comes to politics, religion, the importance of marriage, the desire to have kids (or not) and how to parent? These are some of the key factors that can either positively or negatively impact a relationship long-term. Not that we have to align perfectly on all of these in relationships all the time, but the fact that we can come together and make decisions through these facets together and come to understandings respectfully on these points are important.
Are you and your partner willing to sacrifice your own needs, desires, and goals for each other (without being a doormat)? Can you sacrifice the things you want to do for the greater good of the relationship or family? Can your partner? There's always a chance there could be times we might have to give something up so that our partner can build on and thrive in life with the express hope that they will, in return, do the same for us at some point in life. We all obviously want our needs, desires, and goals to be communicated and taken into consideration, but can you see yourself and your partner supporting each other in difficult times?
Do you and your partner both have agreeable and emotionally stable personalities? No one wants to feel that you have to walk on eggshells around someone and we like some level of predictability in our partners and relationships. If you or your partner are making negative assumptions about the other person and what their reaction might be, individual therapy may be warranted.
Are you and your partner sexually compatible? In relationships, we need to be able to fulfill one another's needs. Sex is a normal part of long-term relationships and we should feel free to openly communicate about what we need to feel fulfilled. What we are "into" and "comfortable with" can vary along a pretty broad spectrum, so these honest conversations are important.
If there's generally agreement among these questions, congratulations! It would appear that your relationship is likely built to last for the long-term. If not, we can always make improvements to self and our relationships. Couples counseling is always a great option for bettering our ability to communicate openly and honestly and more effectively. Check out some of the resources for couples here where you can search for a broad range of topics:
Lewandowski, G., 2021. 15 Questions to Help Decide if a Relationship Has a Future. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-psychology-relationships/202107/15-questions-help-decide-if-relationship-has-future> [Accessed 7 August 2021].