Nearly everyone knows a couple in their life that seems to be unshakeable. A couple who's been together for what seems like forever, who's solid and strong, who's basically, well, #relationshipgoals. When starting a new relationship or looking to strengthen your current relationship, you might start to wonder how those couples do it. Just how do they keep their relationship so strong over so many years? As it turns out, there are some common habits of couples in strong, long-term relationships, which means that kind of relationship might not be as unattainable as it may seem.
Relationships of any kind can be a fickle business. If there were things that you could do to make your relationship more solid and more likely to last long-term, wouldn't you do them? Relationships often aren't easy and they can take a whole lot of work. It's easy to see a so-called "perfect" relationship among your friends or family members and think that the ease just comes naturally for them. And yes, some parts of relationships are easy. But for the most part, they require work. If you're willing to put in the effort, consider embracing some of these habits of strong, long-lasting couples. Who knows. Maybe you and your SO will be the new #relationshipgoals.
1. They Take Responsibility
"Recognize your part in arguments," Christene Lozano, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex addiction therapist candidate, tells Romper via email. Acknowledging that everything isn't all their fault and that you played a part in disagreements as well can help make your relationship more solid as a unit, rather than making your partner feel beaten down.
2. They Expect And Embrace Change
Change is, for better or worse, an integral part of life. "Successful couples can expect and accept change," licensed marriage and family therapist Stephanie Macadaan tells Romper via email. "Growing and adapting with life experience and age is healthy, but it can feel threatening to some in their relationship. Recognizing that change is a part of life and flowing with it is key to a healthy relationship."
3. They Listen
Listening is an important part of interacting with others in general, but it's an especially important part of building a strong, long-term relationship, as Rori Sassoon, a relationship expert and founding partner of Platinum Poire, tells Romper via email. Listening — not just hearing — can help improve your relationship because partners feel like they're actually being understood and that their partner really cares about how they feel or what they have to say.
4. They Don't Let Fights Drag
Letting arguments linger rather than wrapping them up and moving on can cause real problems in your relationship. "If a couple has a fight, a little space and time might be necessary for everyone to calm down and be more rational," Jonathan Bennett, a Columbus, Ohio-based dating and relationship coach, tells Romper via email. "But, a refusal to make up, especially as 'punishment,' can be very toxic to a marriage." When the fight is over, own up to your mistakes, say you're sorry, and move forward together.
5. They Don't Stop Dating
"Couples who remain happily married also continue to date each other, even in a long-term commitment or marriage," Jim Seibold, a Texas-based marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by e-mail. "They are purposeful about spending time and energy on each other. They find ways to demonstrate love, kindness, thoughtfulness, care, and respect in ways that their spouse values. They make sure their partner knows without a doubt they are loved, even when the don't feel particularly lovable at the time." It doesn't have to be a fairytale-style date every time. Sharing a simple meal can do the trick.
Additionally, certified couples therapist Darren Wilk told Redbook, that couples should aim to establish routines they can do together. Whether it's grocery shopping each weekend or sitting down together to fold laundry while watching a TV show you both love, taking the time to do seemingly mundane chores together can help make your relationship stronger.
6. They Talk About Money
People in successful, solid relationships don't shy away from talking about money. In an interview with HuffPost, marriage and family therapist Kurt Smith said that fighting about money is a commonly-cited reason for ending a relationship. Don't wait until there are things that are so serious that a conversation and a plan can't fix them.
7. They Remain Individuals
Having common interests and spending time together are obviously important for the success of your relationship, but so is spending time doing things apart. "A healthy balance between common interests and individual interests keeps the relationship fresh and interesting," Macadaan says. "Becoming too merged with each other creates a stifling environment that can feel suffocating."
8. They Aren't Too Serious
Successful long-term relationships necessitate deeper and more serious conversations, but don't forget to also spend time laughing and having fun with your partner. In an interview with HuffPost, clinical psychologist Dr. Samantha Rodman said that it's important to continue to share funny moments with your significant other rather than saving them all for your girlfriends. Laughing together helps keep your relationship balanced.
9. They Communicate
Communication is important in any relationship. As New York City-based psychotherapist Jessica Meiman tells Romper by email, "long-term, healthy relationships foster intimacy, which invites and welcomes often uncomfortable conversations in order to work and talk through issues, and come out, together, on the other side." Those in strong, long-term relationships should be able to talk to each other frankly and honestly about anything.
10. They Show Appreciation
Sometimes you forget to show how much you appreciate the important people in your life (or, really, anyone in your life). Make it a habit to help make your relationship more solid. As Wilk told Redbook in the previously-mentioned article, telling your partner specific things you appreciate or love about them each day can help counter and balance anything more negative that comes up along the way. Negative things are bound to crop up from time to time, but knowing that your partner appreciates you and is on your side can help you come through those periods strongly.
11. They Are Realistic
Ultimately, relationships — even the strongest, seemingly perfect ones — aren't fairytales. "You are not going to live 'happily ever after"; you will actually life ;happily, angrily, joyfully, sadly, etc. ever after,'" Macadaan says. "Understand that all relationships have down times, and rather than getting rattled and frustrated and less committed, approach those times with curiosity and as a learning experience, that will make your relationship stronger."