You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to look into a legit crystal ball. After all, so many events in life are uncertain and few things can be accurately predicted. Yet perhaps one of the areas of the human experience that is universally sought after is wanting to find a companion for life. Sure, you could leave it all up to fate or the flip of a coin, but wouldn't you love to know the signs you and your spouse will be together forever?
Of course even the best scientists and researchers will still tell you that nothing is ever completely guaranteed. Certain studies, however, show there are some pretty solid indicators as to whether or not you and your partner are going to be able to stick it out through thick and thin. Though it's normal for every relationship to have its high and low points, what are the underlying factors that affect the longevity of your partnership?
Fortunately, relationship experts, psychologists, and researchers have done most of the hard work for you and found some key signs which play a role in determining if you and your spouse will be together forever. So check out these signs that you're going to have your "happily ever after."
1. You Fight Productively
The equation for a perfect marriage doesn't leave out arguments. "A couple that bickers but can resolve their conflicts actually has an increased chance of maintaining a long-lasting relationship than a couple that does not bicker at all," John Gottman, a professor of psychology focusing on marital stability, told Psychology Today.
2. You Both Love Good News
Everyone loves good news, but what about when it doesn't necessarily involve you? In a recent study published in the University of Rochester's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researcher Shelly Gable found that how you respond to each other's good news is a massive indicator for relationship longevity. In her research, she describes "active-constructive responses as enthusiastic support," and couples who exhibited that behavior in the study were found to have stronger, longer relationships.
3. You Engage In Fruitful Endeavors Together
Participating in shared activities is common in many marriages for a reason. According to Oxford Journals - Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN), Dr. Bianca Acevedo and Dr. Arthur Aron of Stony Brook University noted the areas of the brain associated with love and attachment looked the same in couples who had just fallen in love and couples who had been married over 20 years. Acevedo and Aron found that, "the self-expansion model suggests that continued expansion and novel, rewarding events with the beloved might be mechanisms by which romantic love is sustained in long-term relationships."
4. You See Through Rose-Colored Glasses
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and clearly it doesn't hurt to think your partner is truly the bee's knees. The American Psychological Association recently published a study conducted by Dr. Marcel Zentner of the University of Geneva. He found that out of all the various traits that might predict long-term love, the ability to see your partner as your ideal was the strongest indicator that a relationship would be long-lasting.
5. You Don't Hate Your Routine
Some people think that having a routine equals boredom or death in the bedroom. But that isn't always the case. "Couples understand that passion waxes and wanes. They know how to resurrect it [passion] because they have demystified the myth of spontaneity.," psychotherapist Esther Perel said in a recent TED Talk. "Committed sex is premeditated sex. It's intentional, focused, and present."
6. You Can Be Apart
You might already know this one, but just because you're married doesn't mean you have to do everything together. The Journal of Marriage and Family cited research which found that couples in lasting marriages cared more about one another enjoying activities and it didn't matter if they did that together or separately. It seems having a certain level of independence and freedom is healthy for a long-term relationship.
7. You Value Intent
It might sound like a message straight from a kid's show, but taking a moment to pause when you're frustrated and seeing the intent behind your partner's actions is emotionally healthy. "The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict," Psychologist Ty Tashiro told The Atlantic. "A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent."
8. You Focus On The Big Picture
In Beyond The Myth of Marital Happiness, professor of Education and Psychological Studies at the University of Miami Dr. Blaine J. Fowers wrote, "The best marriages are partnerships in which spouses are devoted to creating a shared life that is larger than the emotional payoff of marriage." The relationship isn't defined by the title of being married. Rather, a long-lasting marriage thrives on spouses being able to see beyond that title and focusing on the big picture.
9. You're Both Invested
This may seem obvious, but for any kind of relationship to last, you both have to want it to last. Researchers Robyn Parker and Joanne Commerford of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) recently wrote that, "active engagement in behaviors that support the relationship is needed in order to maintain its stability."
10. You're Responsive
In The Developmental Course of Marital Dysfunction, authors Dr. Thomas N. Bradbury and Dr. Robert L. Weiss found that long-term marriages required both partners to have a certain personality trait. They wrote, "agreeableness and responsiveness appear to have positive payoffs for marriages." This doesn't mean you have to say "yes" to everything, but showing that you listen and care does go a long way.
11. There's No Power Struggle
This may be a toughie for some, but it turns out that letting your partner take the reins every now and then is healthy and vital for your marriage. Gottman told Positive Psychology News, "the happiest marriages were those where partners were able to convey honor and respect for the other and did not resist sharing power and decision making."
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