Sometimes, when you’re stewing over your latest blowout fight, it’s tough to remember what makes you and your partner so right for each other. But science has identified common traits in all thriving couples, and we’re betting at least a few of these apply to the two of you. Here are five key indicators your love is here to stay.
You Do Little Things For Each Other
Turns out, you should sweat the small stuff. “Our motto for making marriage last is ‘small things often,’” says relationship coach Kyle Benton. “The small acts that demonstrate you care are powerful ways to enhance the positivity in your marriage.” From folding her socks the way she likes them to picking up a burrito from his favorite Mexican spot on your way home, the little things add up. “Those small gestures accumulate over time and will provide a buffer of positivity in your marriage so that when you do enter a conflict, it will be easier to engage in positive interactions that outweigh the negative,” notes Benton.
You’re Physically Affectionate
Great news: You don’t have to have sex every night (or even every week) to have a fantastic relationship, according to a study published in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships. Sure, many couples are challenged by mismatched libidos. But interestingly, even small acts of physical affection—regardless of where they lead—have a big impact. “Initiation [of physical contact] communicates a desire to be close, have sex, create interest in the relationship,” explains study co-author Chelom Leavitt. “So even when couples don't have sex, they are strengthening the relationship by communicating desires to be close and committed to the relationship." Even a hug can lower stress, reduce depression and boost immunity. Come on, bring it in.
You Have Similar Mannerisms and Speech Patterns
We’ve always found it hilarious when people choose partners who look just like them (ahem), but it turns out that mirroring each other in all sorts of ways can be a mark of lasting love. “People in thriving relationships take on their partner's habits, interests, and mannerisms,” reports Psychology Today. “After dating for a little while, they pick up new goals and interests (You went hiking?); new and quirky turns of phrase (Did you really just say ‘awesomesauce’?); or new habits (When did you start drinking soy milk?).” It’s called self-other overlap, and it’s a sign your love is here to stay. To put it simply, according to a study in Psychological Science, “people who speak in similar styles are more compatible.” How awesomesauce is that?
You Respond to Each Other’s Bids
No, we’re not talking about an eBay duel. “Bids” are a term coined by relationship guru John M. Gottman—in a nutshell, they’re attempts at emotional connection that are either reciprocated or shut down. In one of his groundbreaking studies, Gottman observed 130 newlywed couples and paid close attention to what happened when one spouse made a request for connection. For instance, a husband, who is a bird enthusiast, might see a gorgeous bird outside and tell his wife about it. It’s not only about the bird—it’s about creating a chance for connection that can make the couple closer. If his wife responds enthusiastically to the bird (instead of getting mad that he interrupted her reading), she has reciprocated the bid. Happy couples who stayed married longer than eight years respond positively to bids like this 87 percent of the time. (So it’s time to start getting interested in your husband’s Xbox...or at least faking it.)
You Believe in Commitment
When it comes to romance, perception is reality, notes another study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In general, if you view romantic relationships as being joyful and fulfilling (instead of feeling iffy about the commitment and wary of being tied down), you’re more likely to be satisfied in your own relationship. Where do your views on relationships come from? Your parents, mostly. According to research published in the academic journal Demography, “Children who reported that their parents were happily married were less likely to endorse divorce as [an] acceptable decision than were the children of less happily married parents.” (We also like to think watching When Harry Met Sally helps.)