When you say, "I do," you're not just committing to be there for your spouse during the goof days. You're also agreeing to stick it out when life makes relationships so uncomfortable that you'd rather crawl in bed and hide under the covers than deal with being part of a couple. Knowing how to tell if your marriage will survive is something that many people are wondering these days, when it seems like it's so difficult to live happily ever after.
Making a marriage work, is, well, work. But work isn't necessarily a negative thing, right? Just think how rewarding it feels when you earn a promotion. Now translate that feeling of accomplishment to your love life. Who doesn't want to feel accomplished in matters of the heart? But in order to have a healthy, open heart, you might have to do some work. As psychologist Tina B. Tessina told Prevention, couples who work together as a team are in it for the long haul.
Of course no one can predict the future. However, there are certain habits and behaviors of healthy couples that indicate if a relationship has staying power. So, peruse the following to see if your relationship will survive.
1. You Criticize Each Other's Actions, Not Each Other
According to Psychology Today, it's important you criticize someone's behavior, not the person. Psychologist Steven Stosny told the publication that many times, criticism is really just a projection of your own inadequacies, and if you don't keep it in check, it can ruin a good marriage. He suggested that if you want to grow old with your SO, be sure to criticism someone's actions rather than making a sweeping criticism about who that person is.
2. You Respect Each Other's Independence
The Journal of Marriage and Family cited research that couples in lasting marriages cared more about one another enjoying activities just as much separately as together. In other words, if you and your spouse have your own set of friends, respect each other's independent activities, and genuinely want the other to have a good time with or without you, then you guys are in it for the long haul.
3. You Include Each Other In Making Small Decisions
Everyone knows it's important to include your spouse in making big decisions like whether or not to procreate or buying an new SUV. But Psychologist Susan Heitler told Women's Health that your day-to-day dynamic as a couple is just as important and should reflect an equal balance of power. "It’s an additional skill set that you need to learn," she said, which makes sense because a relationship is made up of the small things that accumulate over time.
4. You're Both Equally Invested In The Relationship
Just like friendships, there might be times in your marriage when one person is more invested in the relationship than the other. However, researchers Robyn Parker and Joanne Commerford of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) explained that, "active engagement in behaviors that support the relationship is needed in order to maintain its stability." In other words, your relationship should be a dual investment, where both parties are dedicated to making it work. If this sounds like you, then give yourself a pat on the back.
5. You Fight Above The Belt
Psychologist Gail Gross wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post about the importance of fighting fair in a marriage, and her rules for arguing start with empathy. In other words, you have to see your spouse as an equal in order to argue without venom or make those below the belt jabs. If you're not making personal attacks, keeping score of past wrongs, then you're fighting fair. But if you're more interested in blaming or throwing shade at your spouse, well, that's not such a good sign for the survival of your marriage.
6. You Solve Your Solvable Problems
Psychologist Dr. John Gottman, whose research can predict whether a couple's marriage will survive, told Positive Psychology News that a couple's ability to solve solvable problems is paramount to a marriage's survival. Gottman outlined steps on how to do this that include: make "I" statements; avoid blaming each other; don't bottle your emotions, and make repair an integrated part of your relationship. Every marriage has problems. It's how you deal with them that determine your survival as a couple.
7. You Don't Stonewall Each Other
Gottman told Positive Psychology News in the same article that couples who avoid the practice of stonewalling — when one person disengages from the other when an attempt at repair is going down (i.e. one person looks away or acts like he or she doesn't care what the other is expressing) have a higher chance of staying together forever.
8. You Know The Right Way To Laugh
The Huffington Post reported that couples who can laugh at each other have a good relationship. It's important to note that making fun of someone is not the same as belittling a person, which according to Psychology Today, is mean as belittling shows you lack respect, because you're intentionally trying to bring a person down a notch.
Respectfully, Gottman also reported in Positive Psychology News that couples who use sarcasm, name-calling, and hostile humor are expressing contempt towards one another, which is totally different than good-hearted jesting.
9. You Respect Each Other When It Comes To Finances
It sounds shallow, but it's oh-so-true: money can be a make or break issue in a marriage. But, The Huffington Post noted that couples who feel good about their financial arrangements are build to last. Because money can come and go, talking dollars and cents is something you should be doing on the regular, as the circumstances of your life, and marriage change.
10. You Share Household Chores
Speaking of the economics of a marriage, don't forget the domestic economy. The Atlantic made headlines with an article pointing to a 2007 Pew Research Poll that indicated couples who share chores are happier. If you and your spouse are sharing household duties (that bed doesn't make itself) then that's a positive sign for the longevity of the relationship.
11. You Have Great Sex
In a marriage, it's not uncommon to wonder, am I having enough sex? In a culture of comparison, who the heck knows. However, according to Psychology Today, there's not a one-size fits all answer to how much sex is enough sex in a marriage. The article noted that it depends on how you and your partner value sex and that you're both getting what you want from the other (in bed).
12. You're Both Emotionally Intelligent
Psychologist Dr. Hendrie Weisinger told The Huffington Post that emotional intelligence can improve your marriage. What is emotional intelligence? Basically, it's the ability to use your feelings, moods, and the feelings and moods of others to make informed choices about how to act. In a marriage, it's vital to use emotional intelligence to manage a household full of feelings. So, if you're in touch with your feelings and your spouse is as well, that's a sign that you guys are navigating the road of forever, together.
13. You Love Yourself Enough To Connect With Another
Psychology Today reported that one of the most overlooked indicators of relationship success is the ability to love yourself. Self-love is extremely difficult, but it doesn't have to be. And not to sound like a fortune cookie, but truly, the first love is self-love. Without it, people feel lonely and isolated and unable to make the social connections that are so vital to the human experience.
So, if you love yourself, and know how to self-care, then chances are, you're able to fully love your spouse in a meaningful way that predicts your marriage will survive.