As a couple’s therapist, one of the most difficult questions I am asked is “Are we going to make it?”. The beauty of relationships, and the reason this specific area of counseling intrigued me, are the countless variations of dynamics within interpersonal relationships. While relationship patterns – both healthy and unhealthy – exist, every relationship is unique just as every individual is unique. As a result of this daunting question, I have come up with 5 key elements that might help you subjectively determine whether you and your significant other will make it or not.
1.Taking a WalkDown Memory Lane:
When you are taking a break from work and day dreaming about your relationship, where does your mind wander off to? Are you thinking about all the great times you’ve had together or are you boiling with anger thinking about all the times your partner let you down? Also, pay attention to how your body is physically reacting as you reflect. Are you in a state of anxiety (tightness in your chest, increase in heartrate, sweaty palms, dry mouth) or do you feel relaxed? Remain cognizant of your mind, body, and emotions. If the positive to negative memories ratio is about 5 to 1, you are still in a state of positive perspective – a great sign!
2.You are not Afraid to Fight:
This might come as a surprise for some couples, but conflict is NECESSARY for a relationship to survive. Some couples are proud to state that they NEVER disagree and they NEVER argue, yet they do no
t understand why they feel so disconnected. Well, that’s exactly why. Conflict serves a few purposes in a relationship:
Conflict teaches you about yourself. Relationships are meant to create some self-awareness and help us understand who we are, how we behave, and how we respond to certain triggers. With that said, it is important to pay attention to these patterns – especially if they are destructive. Once you have detected the pattern, take some time to reflect on its origin.
Conflict teaches you about your significant other. Similar to the aforementioned point, it is through conflict that we truly understand a person’s values, ethics, and core beliefs. We usually don’t fight about things we don’t feel strongly about, so if your partner is trying to make a point, do your best to understand why and the root of that value or belief.
When handled constructively, conflict makes you feel closer to your partner. As discussed, focusing on understanding rather than agreeing can open doors to past pain and experiences, allowing you to learn about one another and increase the compassion and empathy in your relationship.
You are Flexible and Adaptable as a Couple:
Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Most people make plans for their future 10, 15, 20 years down the road. Once you commit to the one you love, sometimes those plans might change. How flexible are you as a couple? Are you able to compromise without keeping score? Is what your partner wants just as important to you and what you want? How do you handle unexpected situations? How do you handle internal and external stress? If you feel your relationship is predominantly resilient and you approach the unexpected as a united front, that’s a strength!
You are Comfortable Together and Apart:
When you and your partner decide to spend some quality time together, it should evoke positive feelings. If you feel that taking time to be with your significant other is a chore or an obligation, it might be time to explore the future of your relationship. Similarly, the both of you are secure with being apart from one another. You acknowledge that alone time is important. Both of you have your own worlds to escape to when needed with the confidence that you will return to one another.
You Want to Make It Work:
In my opinion, this is the key element. Are BOTH of you willing to fight for this relationship? Are you willing to make your relationship a priority every single day? I have seen couples who experienced years of unresolved issues in their relationship but managed to turn it all around and hold on to each other. I have also seen couples who had great potential but were not motivated enough; therefore, their relationship deteriorated overtime. Your relationship is a muscle that must be exercised daily in order to remain strong.
These are a few examples of patterns I have noticed in couples who have “made it.” Again, every relationship and situation is unique, so unfortunately, there are no set rules on who will make it and who will not. If you find yourself pondering over this big question, I hope these 5 key points will help give you a better idea of where your relationship stands. If you need help figuring this out, come see me and we’ll work through it together. Call Amy Wine Counseling at 832-421-8714 or email us for an appointment.