“Actually, I’m divorced”.
That felt like a terribly unsexy thing for me to say a few years ago as a 20-something divorcee. Especially if the conversation was with an attractive male who was presumably (hopefully!) interested in me.
And even though I was young when I got divorced, I felt like having a relationship fall apart made me strangely wise about what makes one work.
If you speak to any of my fellow divorcees, they will often nod in agreement, grateful in unlikely ways for what their unsuccessful marriages taught them. The secret to lasting relationship success is not about big gestures and theatrical drama. It’s the subtle thoughts and actions that could go unnoticed on the daily.
So after losing money, face, and, most importantly, my romantic naivete in my younger years, I’ve come to observe what tends to hold a relationship together over time.
Here are five habits people in long-lasting partnerships often have:
1. THEY OFFER UNWAVERING SUPPORT
Job loss. A death in the family. Illness. It’s a matter of time before life serves you one of these challenges. Will your spouse be there for you no matter what – and vice versa?
If it’s even a question, that’s something you might want to think about. Support is the foundation of every great relationship.
2. THEY’RE GENEROUS
Sounds simple, right? That’s because it should be. Do you go out of your way to make your partner’s life a little bit easier? Do you think of ways to make him or her laugh? Do you help find the car keys even when you’re both running late? Do you surprise your S.O. with a small gift, a note or an unexpected sext during the day?
These things are important, especially over time, to make your person feel desired and appreciated. Generosity in any form is almost always received as love. Are you giving enough?
3. THEY KNOW THEIR LOVE LANGUAGE
According to Gary Chapman, the best-selling author of The Five Love Languages, we all communicate love through five key ways: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time and/or gifts.
Knowing your own love language – and your partner’s – helps you communicate your affection in best ways for your relationship.
4. THEY’RE PRESENT (EVEN WHEN THEY’RE TIRED)
Nicole Moore, relationship coach and founder of the Love Works Method, says, “The more present you are, the more attractive you are”. So listen. Pay attention. Be grounded. These are important factors in showing your love and respect for your partner.
Moore says she always stops what’s she’s doing and turns her attention to her husband when he arrives home. Put simply, it’s “being loving” that counts most. And your presence is your power.
5. THEY KEEP THE DATING VIBE ALIVE
Tony Robbins says, “Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship, and there won’t be an end”. What can you do to keep your relationship fresh? Can you go away for a weekend? Can you have a date night out (or in)? Can you go for a walk without your cellphones and really connect? Can you go see a funny movie together? Can you prioritise sex?
Lasting relationships do not revolve around red roses, grand gestures or even a lack of disagreements. They involve being realistic and showing up emotionally (even when you don’t feel like it). Successful relationships are centred around kindness, friendship and consideration. Simple stuff.
The other night I tried Moore’s tip and warmly welcomed my husband when he arrived home (in the form of a playful pounce). He was surprised and happy. He said later, “That was nice before, ya know, me coming home to that big hug. You can do that again.”
And that was all it took: a big hug. It’s the little things.
Susie Moore is a life coach columnist at Greatist and a confidence coach in New York City.
Visit her blog on www.susie-moore.com