They say opposites attract, but long-term relationships last when they are built on a strong foundation of friendship, respect, realistic expectations, shared interests and humour.
But how do you know your own relationship can go the distance?
A compatible partnership
According to a new study, asking 10 ‘critical’ questions before embarking on a serious relationship can help couples to thrive and stand the test of time.
The research, which was conducted by the University of Exeter, stresses that couples must recognise if they are compatible and want the same things from the relationship.
“Of course every relationship is different, and it is important that couples build relationships that are meaningful to them, but we found thriving relationships share some fundamental qualities,” said Professor Anne Barlow, who led the research.
“Mostly, the couple have chosen a partner with whom they are a ‘good fit’ and have ways of successfully navigating stressful times.
“These 10 critical questions can help people as they decide if they are compatible with a person they are considering sharing their life with and flag the importance of dealing with issue when they arise, as well as of nurturing the relationship over time.”
The critical questions to ask
Evidence from real couples, as well as family lawyers, mediators and judges, has helped to identify the 10 key aspects of a relationship which can be used to see if your partnership is likely to last.
Continuing to ask these critical questions can also help couples to build their relationship.
The 10 questions every couple should ask themselves
1. Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
2. Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
3. Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
4. Are our expectations realistic?
5. Do we generally see the best in each other?
6. Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
7. Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
8. Are we both committed to working through hard times?
9. When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
10. Do we each have supportive others around us?
Support from the experts
The study has gained support from well known divorce lawyer, Baroness Shackleton.
“More than 50 per cent of the people consulting me about divorce have said they realised either before, or very soon into their marriages, that they were fundamentally incompatible with their partners,” said Shackleton.
The experts interviewed 10 divorce lawyers or mediators and two judges to ask them the key reasons relationships fail.
They also interviewed 43 couples married for 10 years, or who had separated during this period, and 10 other couples in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, who had been living together, married or in a civil partnership for at least 15 years.
The lawyers and judges identified these four common reasons for relationships to break down:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Failure to deal with issues
- Failure to nurture the relationship