The Ingredients For a Relationship Most Likely to Stand the Test of Time
Finding that certain someone, that person you want to spend the rest of your life with, have children with, grow old with, is one of the most important decisions of our lives so why do so many of us turn our trust completely to’ romantic love’ - that indefinable feeling, that X Factor, butterflies in your tummy, heart contracting, can’t be without them emotions. There is no doubt that romantic love is key to a long term successful relationship but if that is all it takes why do so many relationships fail.
Human nature is a complicated thing and there is no hard and fast formula that will work for everyone but Psychiatrist George Blair West believes that you can stack the odds of establishing and maintaining a healthy and happy long term relationship in your favour if you take other factors into consideration. You can intervene in relationships either when things begin to go wrong or before the relationship deepens into something more enduring - in Blair Wests opinion prevention is better than cure and that if couples think through what it takes to build and maintain a relationship before they get too embroiled then its more likely that their relationship will stand the test of time.
Our brains do not stop developing until we are 25 years old
Firstly Blair West points out that our brains do not stop developing until we are 25 years old. Our 20’s are a decade of rapid change and our personalities at 25 do not correlate with our personalities at 50. However our personalities at 30 do correlate with our personalities at 50. This does not mean that relationships established in late teens, early 20’s are doomed to failure - far from it, we are all surrounded by examples of happy couples who have been together donkeys years but these couples have maintained successful relationships because they have grown up together - unfortunately the statistics show that many more fail because young couples grow apart. Couples deciding to invest in long term relationships in their late 20’s-early 30’s also have the advantage of already being on a career path and are often more financially secure - two other factors that take the pressure off. So what does Blair West recommend - in your 20’s have fun, fall in love, enjoy romance but before you make those life changing decisions - marriage, parenthood - wait until you are older.
Relationships tend to be stronger where the couple share power
Secondly, relationships tend to be stronger and weather more storms where the couple share power, where they are both influenceable. In other words where both have a say in the big decisions - children, homes, jobs, cars, holidays etc and both are prepared to take the others point of view into account before deciding on a course on action. This doesn’t mean that couples will always agree but having your view listened to and considered leads to a sense of value. It is important that both have respect for each other and make sure that this respect plays out in the decision making process.
Follow through on your promises
Thirdly Blair West believes that reliability plays a pivotable roll in ensuring a relationship lasts. “Knowing that your partner has your back. That you can rely on your partner when you need them most. That they will step up and make sure you feel supported and cared for, makes you feel important, loved and it all helps to make sure you stay invested in the relationship.”
It is not always possible to be there 100% of the time but if you can rely on your partner for the majority of the time, that when they make promises they follow through, then you are likely to be mutually supportive in the long run. He stresses that this reliability needs thought. It’s better to be honest and manage your partners expectations and talk through when you can or cannot be there for them - only commit to what you know you can deliver on - it’s much worse to let them down. Make sure when it is really important to your partner that you understand this and move heaven and high water to be there for them. Communicating clearly is key.
Don’t worry if existing relationships aren’t strong in these areas yet - all can be built on and strengthened if the will is there.
“All you need is love” goes the song - add maturity, respect and reliability and you might have a hit relationship on your hands.