According to science.
My husband and I are what previous partners have called, “difficult.”
My ex would tell you that I’m high-maintenance and a nag. His ex would tell you that he was a terrible husband that worked too much.
While my husband and I may have not had great first marriages, we excel at being kind and loving toward one another. I feel lucky every day he’s my person, and he tells me the same thing. How we are with each other is what makes our relationship satisfying.
A recent study (published July 27th, 2020) confirms that a successful relationship has much more to do with the dynamic you have with a particular person than personality traits.
To figure out where you are with your relationship, consider your answers to these questions:
Do I feel satisfied with my partner? Are they appreciative? Do I think they’re satisfied with me? Am I appreciative of them?
Your answers to these questions define how you feel about the dynamic you have with your partner. How you feel about that dynamic is connected to these five aspects:
1. Partner commitment
My husband and I have agreed to be in a monogamous relationship. I trust him not to be either emotionally or physically unfaithful or to be in relationships that skirt too close to the edge of those lines.
I know he finds other women attractive, but it doesn’t bother me because I trust him and I trust what we have. I know that he feels the same way about me too.
If I perceived him to not be as committed as I am, I wouldn’t be satisfied with our relationship.
My husband is my cheerleader. He praises me for my perseverance and strong work ethic. He thanks me for the things I do for our family. I always feel appreciated by him, and I’m grateful.
When we don’t feel appreciated by our partner, it’s easy for us to then feel used or neglected by them. It’d be time then to express your needs to your partner.
We also obviously need to give the same to our partner. Do you show them that you love them? Do you know their love language and make sure to “speak” it? If you’re slacking, maybe it’d be time to brush up on how to express gratitude and care for that person you love.
3. Sexual satisfaction
How things are in the bedroom is often a good indicator of how things are in the rest of your relationship.
A good sexual relationship is an important part of any relationship. How often and what is done are all things that will and should be continually negotiated. You or your partner will likely have a higher sex drive, or one of you will want to try something new that may make the other sweat in a bad (in a not-so-good way).
It’s all about communicating and compromising to find what works for you and your sweetheart.
4. Perceived partner satisfaction
We usually know whether our partner is happy with us and our relationship or not.
Are they complaining about you or your relationship (“You work too much! You’re never home!” “We never go out like we used to.”)? Have they asked you more than twice for something in particular (possibly more time together or for you to be more affectionate)?
There is a chance too that your partner’s unhappiness could be unrelated to your relationship. When we’re upset about something such as a job, it can be easy for our nasty feelings to wash over everything around us, including our special person(s).
If your partner is upset about something, whether it be in or out of your relationship, listen to them and ask how you can help. A successful relationship has to be built on both people being satisfied.
Every couple will experience conflict. The absence of problems doesn’t mean a couple is “successful.” It likely means a couple isn’t being totally honest with one another.
You’re going to be happier with your partner if you know you can address issues. Every couple will face both solvable and unsolvable problems. Hopefully, you’ll be able to gracefully handle the ones you can tackle and you accept the ones you can’t. Having “unsolvable” problems isn’t a sign of a “bad” couple, just the reality of two people who happen to differ.
My husband and I, for example, have fundamentally different beliefs when it comes to parenting.
I’m all about teaching our kids how to take care of themselves since I didn’t even know how to do my own laundry when I went off to college. My husband, on the other hand, had to learn to do everything for himself at a young age, and he feels that it’s his purpose to let our kids enjoy their childhood. Neither one of us is wrong about how we parent. We just disagree, and we clash over it sometimes.
I’m satisfied with how we deal with conflict generally because we tackle what we can and try to accept or come to compromises over what we can’t.
Whether you’re single, dating, or already coupled, this new study establishes what’s important: how you get along with someone vs. each of you as individuals. You might find who looks to be your perfect match, but once you meet them, they irritate the bejeezus out of you. Traits don’t guarantee satisfaction in a relationship.
Instead, focus on how the two of you interact and how you feel as well as how you perceive them to feel. Ask for what you need or what your partner needs and adjust. We all want our romantic relationships to be satisfying and meaningful, and now we have a great blueprint to follow.
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