For whatever reason, I'd always had it in my head that once a person commits to a serious relationship, the difficult part is done. But, as with anything, putting in the time and effort is necessary for things to work. Whether you're still in the early days or you and your significant other have been together longer than either of you can remember, you can look for the one sign your relationship is getting stronger. As someone who is constantly plagued by self-doubt, I openly welcome any information that can put my mind at ease.
Every partnership has its ups and downs. Just because you've hit a rough patch doesn't necessarily mean you have to throw in the towel. So, if you and your significant other have been trying to strengthen your relationship, how can you tell if it's working? As psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Brenner told Psychology Today, the number one sign your relationship is getting stronger is if, "you each retain your individuality, joining the best of who you are for your common good." And chances are, the people you know who are in healthy, long-lasting partnerships haven't lost their identities for the sake of romance. Similarly, relationship coach Ravid Yosef told Psych Central that, "one of the most important elements of succeeding at your relationship is to continue letting your individual identity shine." It appears the experts agree that independence is important.
The concept of balancing self and togetherness seems to be a key element in strong relationships. Psychotherapist Dr. Deborah Hecker told The Huffington Post, "a 'grown-up' relationship is one in which partners feel closely connected while maintaining a strong sense of independence within the relationship." For instance, my partner loves to cook and I don't have a domestic bone in my body. Since it's something that makes him happy, he knows he can practice his hobby without worrying about me laying on the guilt. This goes both ways, of course — like when I'm nerding out over an astronomy lecture at the local museum. To sum it up, leaving enough room in your partnership for you to still have a healthy sense of self is one of the top signs you're growing stronger together.