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5 Things You Need In Your Relationship If You Want It To Last A Lifetime

Pexels - Noelle Otto

A lot of us hope to become one of those adorable couples in their old age, holding hands on a park bench, still in love with their partner after decades together.

But here's the thing, relationships are hard, and maintaining one for that long really tests a person's patience and commitment.

With around 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it's obviously tricky to know whether or not your relationship will be the one that lasts.

My grandparents are one of those couples who have been together forever. They are still happily married and love spending time together, and they are the couple that we all strive to be. But it's hard to know whether or not you are capable of finding a relationship like theirs.

But there are some ways to ensure that your marriage or relationship will be a success. Psychologists have narrowed down the so-called "secrets" to a successful relationship, and honestly, it's so simple in theory.

1. Compromise

While we all love to be right, there are some things that we need to let go. You can not always get what you want, but you can't always give up everything to do what your partner wants.

The key is to compromise, making sure that both parties are satisfied with the solution. Too often people will give up their entire identity, or give their partner everything they want, only to end up resenting them later in life.

Love may steer you through a lot of life's trials, but compromising will make sure that both partners are happy with the results.

Hollywood relationships aren't known for being extremely long-lasting, but some of them manage to stand the test of time. One of those iconic relationships is between Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, and they believe it's because of compromise.

"We’re two humans trying to get along, just like any relationship, so I’d say I get a lot of mileage out of shutting my trap and listening," Offerman revealed on the Today show. "Compromise always leads to more kissing much quicker than obstinacy does.”

2. Trust

You might be thinking, 'yes, obviously trust is important,' but honesty and trust can make or break a relationship.

If even a sliver of doubt enters your mind, it can be enough to poison an entire relationship. If you can't depend on someone, how can you know that they will be with you through all the challenges of your life?

You're going to have some curve balls thrown your way, whether it's financial, medical, family issues, or any of the other millions of problems that will come at you, and you need to make sure that the person by your side will be there for you when you need them.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have been married for over two decades, and she revealed that it's the mutual trust that helps keep them together.

“I'm certainly no expert in relationships, God knows, but you need to be with someone who believes in you 100 per cent," Parker said. "If you don't have that, there's no point."

3. Communication

The thing about a long-lasting relationship is that you have to actually enjoy talking to them. Sure, it's great when you start out with just a mutual physical attraction, but over time that becomes less important and you want to be able to actually talk to them.

Not only that, but you want to make sure that the ways you talk to each other are actually beneficial. According to Dr. John Gottman, an expert on couple studies, one of the biggest predictors of divorce is contempt in communication.

Contempt is measured by how much respect is shown to a person's partner in the way they speak to them. Judgmental comments, criticism, and even sarcastic remarks can be difficult on a relationship.  

You have to ask yourself whether or not the words your partner says to you make you happy or not. While you can't expect compliments 24/7, you should find that their comments are not hurtful to you and are actually useful.

Freddie Prinze Jr. has been married to Sarah Michelle Gellar for a long time now, and he credits their ability to communicate for their success.

"As long as [your partner] can make you laugh, laughter lasts forever," he said. "If you just think she's hot or she just thinks you're hot, you're in a lot of trouble when you're 60."

4. Conflict Resolution

Whether it's a conflict between friends, family, each other, or life in general, problems will pop up. That's why your wedding vows say "for better or worse," because without fail the "worse" will come around at some point.

When it does, how do you handle it as a couple? There are three typical behaviors associated with poor conflict resolution skills that a person is likely to express: Fight, flight, or freeze.

If you run away from a conflict, keep on fighting without giving up or offering a solution, or shut down emotionally, then you are not going to be able to solve anything. If you want to have a successful relationship, you need to learn how to face the problem head on, and actually solve it.

You need to be able to address the problem, and come up with a solution that is suitable to both of you (see, compromise is important) and move on. You don't want to keep on bringing up the same issues over and over again because that's not actually beneficial to either of you.

Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka are always thought of as one of the happiest couples in Hollywood, but that doesn't mean they don't have their little issues, but they know how important it is to talk it out.

"In our relationship, communication is super important. Good friends of ours said, 'You need to talk it out,' and if that means raising your voice, you need to raise your voice," Harris said. "Know what you're talking about. Know where you're standing as opposed to letting stuff build up, I guess."

5. Continued Effort

One thing that a lot of people underestimate is how much work a relationship is. Yes, even the perfect relationships still need effort.

It's easy to become stagnant in a relationship, especially when you've been together for a long time, but even scientists suggest that you try to keep working together to make your relationship fun again.

A study showed that even those couples that were highly satisfied with their relationship would become complacent, and "stop actively working to build a healthy relationship."

This means that the neglect can lead to future conflicts that won't be resolved as easily because you are no longer working as a team like you used to.

While it feels a little counter-intuitive, the study suggests that getting stuck in a routine can be a dangerous trap to fall into.  

John Legend revealed how he keeps his marriage to Chrissy Teigen fresh. "You just have to make time for each other, go on little trips like we did for her birthday, and go to dinner just the two of you sometimes.”

Kristen Bell agreed that effort was well worth it, and that's how her relationship with Dax Shepard works so well. “Try hard. It’s uncomfortable, but worth it,” she said. “Also BE VULNERABLE. No one does it right. So forgive. And then be vulnerable again,”

It's obviously not easy to be in a relationship for decades, but it's well worth the work if you find the right person.

Sources - Psychology Today / Psych Central / Women's Health / Glamour / Allure

What is the best relationship advice you've ever received?

Tanya has been writing for Shared for two years. She spends too much time thinking about dogs, Marvel movies, and ice cream. You can reach me at tanya@shared.com