The 5 Characteristics of Couples That Last

Happy Couple

As a coach, sometimes I feel like an outsider looking into my own life wondering, “WTF is she doing?!”

See, being a coach can be a challenging skill to turn off. And it’s not just my inner-crazy that I need to contend with. It’s everyone else’s. And while my boyfriend signed on as my partner, he didn’t sign up to be a client.
Sucks for him, he has a coach whether or not he likes it. 

This came to mind when I was studying relationships from a therapist’s point of view. I love getting a clinical perspective on things I’ve experienced. Learning about Depression, for instance, has been validating, triggering, and illuminating all at the same time. 

Studying relationships, however, is like Googling a symptom and diagnosing yourself with every known disease.
At the same time.
Learning about what it takes to be in a successful relationship while being in one is, at best laced with frustration, and at worst a recipe for disaster.   

What I’ve come to learn is that the beginning of relationships is filled with romance, wooing, passion and cheese plates. Over time, successful couples develop more comfort and work to create a loving companionship. This is fostered by 

The 5 Characteristics of Couples That Last:

1. Dedication

A skilled clinician can tell within 10 minutes of meeting a couple whether their relationship stands a chance. How? By asking a simple question, “How committed are you to making this work?” This level of dedication not only informs whether they will last, but the overall level of satisfaction. High conflict doesn’t make for a bad relationship. It’s about whether the conflict gets resolved or shoved to the side (and results in a Pompeii-esque eruption). As long as both parties are willing to work for it, there’s a good chance they can make it work.

2. Appreciation

Couples who happily stay together love and appreciate each other. I don’t care what Disney says, love is not enough. Successful couples admire and genuinely respect each other’s point of view, values, and goals.

3. Empathy

Empathy, as opposed to sympathy, is understanding how others feel from their perspective. Happy couples actively work to validate each other. This, in turn, increases prosocial behaviors (such as helping, volunteering, and expressing concern). 

4. Sexual Attraction

We’ve been conditioned to believe that attraction inevitably fades in time. As men approach middle age, testosterone declines and it may take more time and work to create excitement. Women, on the other hand have proportionately more estrogen and enter what I like to call their dirty thirties (or filthy forties). This increase in desire coupled with the male’s decline can impact one’s self-esteem and the relationship itself. At that point, attraction becomes even more important. The good news is that chemistry increases when both people share why they are attracted to the other person, whether that be physically or emotionally. 

5. Companionship

Happy couples enjoy spending time together. No, not just sitting next to each other while watching reruns of Family Guy. I mean actually spending quality time together and making it a priority. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many couples only hang out while running errands, discussing daycare, or fighting about who left the cap off the toothpaste.

Want to make your relationship last?

Download the 7 Skills To Improve Any Relationship Worksheet.