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A long-term relationship is best built on a solid foundation, one able to offer strong support for the challenges the years to come will inevitably hold. It takes time to know if the elements that make up that foundation are present. Sometimes they aren't and other times they are, but need time to develop or mature. Rushing into marriage or other long-term commitments, such as living together or having a child with someone, without making the investment of time beforehand often results in disappointment.
Shared values are an integral part of a successful long-term relationship, affecting critical relationship areas, including parenting, financial matters and the most basic issues surrounding how the relationship will work. Having shared values helps to reduce instances of major conflict, the sort that can rip a relationship apart. Values conflicts can be difficult to resolve. If one parent supports corporal punishment and the other is opposed, one partner is frugal and the other spends impulsively and extravagantly, or partners define fidelity differently, there's going to be ongoing trouble. Couples need to take their time and get to know each other to find out if they have similar values.
Compatible Life Goals
Another cornerstone to a good foundation for a long-term relationship is having similar or compatible life goals. It is important to take time to talk about what each person wants for their future, where each sees themselves five and ten years down the line. Compatible financial goals are important, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Financial conflict is one of the leading causes of divorce and a frequent issue in couples counseling, notes Preston Ni, professor of communication studies at Foothill College, in a Psychology Today article. Finances are intimately tied to lifestyle and the balance of time between home and work. If a couple doesn't have similar long-term goals, their chances for a long-term relationship decrease.
It is important to invest time in discovering common interests, according to the University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. Having things to do and talk about together helps friendship and intimacy develop, both vital to the success of a long-term relationship. Spending time together in shared activities, other than the work of the household and family, helps to keep a relationship growing, avoiding stagnation and dullness. When a couple continues to add hobbies and activities to the list of things they enjoy together, that helps keep their relationship fresh and interesting.
Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills
It can feel very risky to communicate intimate needs and desires, but it is absolutely necessary, says Dr. John Grohol in an article for Psych Central. Learning how to communicate openly and honestly is the key to building healthy, lasting relationships, according to the University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. How a couple manages conflict is a major factor in whether the relationship succeeds over the long term. Good communication skills are a vital part of conflict resolution. It is imperative to be able to respect differences, to compromise when possible, and to be able to weigh the health of the relationship against the value of winning a conflict.
- Psych Central: 5 Things Not to Do in Your New Relationship
- Woman's Day: What You Can Learn from Marriage Studies
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Foundations for Strong Families 201
- Psychology Today: 7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success
- University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center: Building a Healthy Relationship From the Start
- Psych Central: 5 Secrets to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage
- David Sacks/Digital Vision/Getty Images