"My grandparents were married for sixty years until my grandfather passed away last year," my friend told me. "They were my role models. I've always wanted a marriage like theirs. I thought that I'd marry once and stay with that person till I died. I wanted a partner, a best friend, someone with whom I could laugh and explore new adventures.” My friend went on to say, “Unfortunately, that is not what happened. My wife divorced me just three years after we got married. I would have done anything in the world to make her happy, but she decided she didn't want to be with me. At the end, we were two enemies and the divorce was a rescue. But I still wonder why it didn't last. What did I do wrong?"
My own grandparents were also together for almost sixty years, until my grandmother passed away. In contrast, my parents divorced when I was just twelve, after two years of painful battles.
But what distinguish whether your relationship sustains or there's no chance of survival?
Are you your better or your worse self? One of the most important indicators of whether a relationship will survive is how the other person makes you feel, how you respond to them, how you feel about yourself when you are with them. Most of the time, we ignore the warning signals we are receiving right from the beginning, but your body never lies, listen to it, it will spare you a lot of sufferings. I have been in relationships where I fell head over heels, yet I didn't feel comfortable when I was with the other person. I was always anxious about losing him, nervous to say anything that wouldn't be suitable, so keen to please him that I was actually losing myself. This is not a good or right feeling. When you're with someone, you want them to motivate you to grow, not to castigate you. You want to get better than yesterday and they support you. You shouldn't be anxious when beeing with them. Don't underestimate if you do - that's the warning sign. Although every relationship has different dynamics and no two people interact the same way with each other, if you're constantly worried and unsettled, something is not right. Some people will bring the worst out in you and constantly push your buttons. These people can be great for shifting our lives, motivating change, but they don't make good life partners. People who allow us to grow and become better versions of ourselves are who we should be with. Watch who you've become when with your partner.
Can you be who you really are? My friend has been (un)happily married for ten years. Since the beginning of her relationship, her husband was casting her in the role of a small, unreliable child. Even worse, she accepted it. Now, after ten years of marriage, she's trying to grow up, but he doesn't want to let her. He's not accepting her the way she really is, as his perception of their relationship collides with the idea of an independent partner. Mutual respect is key to any relationship. You can't conduct role-plays in a relationship for very long. If you're a career-oriented woman and your partner wants a housewife, chances are, you won't be happy in the long term because you will be forced to either change who you are or try to change his expectations. Know your boundaries, know how much you can compromise on what you want and who you are, and don't let anyone to push you beyond. At the end of the day, pure love is about acceptance.
Do you appreciate each other? Many things your significant other does will drive you crazy. Hopefully, you can expect many nice gestures as well. My ex-fiancé was the type of a guy who never brought me flowers, regardless of how much I would have loved that. He did other amazing things for me, though, showed his love for me in different ways. As long as I didn’t rant about the flowers and appreciated those other things, we were good. But the moment I started to look more at his faults than at the good things, our relationship was on the way out.
Do you know how to communicate? It is usually not from lack of love that we kill a relationship; it is from lack of communication. There will always be ups and downs, but as long as you're able to communicate whatever's bugging you and, more importantly, listen and acknowledge what your partner is trying to tell you, you'll survive everything. Lack of communication is a silent killer that will mean the death of your relationship every time. If you're not able to talk openly with your partner about important matters, say goodbye to your happily-ever-after. While it doesn’t hurt to keep a few small secrets to yourself, discuss the bigger issues, regardless of how painful they are. Nobody is a mind reader. Other people can't understand what's hurting you unless you tell them.
Do you have mutual goals and values? I like to think that a relationship is like two sailboats; sometimes you drift apart for short periods of time, but you always share the same basic direction and final destination. Ask yourself about your relationship goals. Are they the same for both of you? Are you both sailing in the same direction or are you just suffering with it and would rather sail off on your own? If you are all up for the healthy lifestyle and your partner likes to have French fries in front of the TV whenever possible, chances are that this may cause problems between you. Make sure that you share your most important values. You'll probably never find someone who is one hundred percent compatible (and that would be pretty boring anyway, right?) but you should be going the same direction when it comes to the big stuff in life. Don't compromise on your values. They are coming from your heart and your soul. If you betray them, you're betraying yourself.
Are you struggling with boredom? the ultimate killer of excitement and romance? I personally hate routine. Many people love it, but I suspect that routine is silently killing many relationships. Work, home, TV, mandatory ten-to-fifteen minutes of physical interaction, sleep, and then repeat the same pattern again. I want to scream with just the idea of such life. Bring some diversity to your days. Surprise your partner from time to time. Bring flowers home or buy a bottle of wine you can share together. Go out of your way to trigger a smile in the other person. Even the smallest gestures and favors add up and are worth doing. You may be surprised how much they can matter in daily life.
Do you have a fulfilling life outside of the relationship? I can't even count how many friends I have lost the moment they started seeing someone romantically. Women especially seem to "sink" into their relationships, establishing this new identity, and forgetting that they are a complete person, not just a girlfriend/partner. They become friends only with his friends or with other couples. Don't do that. While a relationship will inevitably change the dynamics of your life, don't let it dictate who you are. Keep your circle of friends, maintain your hobbies and social outings, even travel with friends if that’s what you have always done. Seek compromises but don't give up on whatever makes you happy.
Are you still excited to have each other? It is important to set time aside for your relationship. Go for a romantic date with your partner at least twice in month. Dinner, cinema or just a walk in the park – it doesn’t matter. Hold hands and pretend you just started seeing each other. Explore new things about each other and together.
Do you still take care about yourself? It’s a sad but common scenario that once we find and marry someone we consider a desirable person, we begin to get a little bulky in both mind and body just a few years into the relationship. The fact that you're married/taken doesn't mean that you can now become a lazy couch potato – mentally or physically – unless perhaps you share this as a common goal. In every relationship, we're connecting with people on three levels: spiritually, mentally, and physically. Some people emphasize one over the other, but it's important to take care of all three equally. Taking care of all aspects of yourself is a way of showing respect for your partner, of communicating that you still value them and are trying to be your best person for them.
Can you see yourselves growing old together? If your intention is the happily-ever-after, this a MUST. Of course, the future is unpredictable and anything can happen, but the question is, can you SEE yourself growing together from your today point of view? Can you imagine your white-haired selves sitting in a park, holding hands, feeding the pigeons? Everything feels like a ride on pink clouds during the first few months, but it is how you deal with daily life afterwards that will define whether what you've got is just short-term flirt or a long-term relationship. If everything you have in common with your partner is that flamey passion, you won't survive for long. Long term relationships are more than that.
I hope this article will help you to define where you're standing with your significant half. These were my questions - if you have additional ones on your mind, please share it with me. Don't forget to share this article with your friends and subscribe to our newsletter.