Entering a long-term relationship can be scary. If you are newly engaged or married, you might be looking for ways to predict the future—to determine if your marriage will succeed or fail in the long run. And if your marriage has already hit some road bumps, you might be wondering about the ultimate success of the partnership. Are there any warning signs that indicate your relationship is doomed for failure? Or perhaps there is evidence to show you are in a relationship that will last and stand the test of time?
To answer these questions we turned to Jaime Bronstein, a relationship therapist, coach, and host of Love Talk Live, on LA Talk Radio. While every relationship is different, she speaks with us about different factors that can determine whether a relationship will work. If you don't feel familiar with these, have no fear. She also suggests ways to improve your relationship and make sure you are on the road to success.
Meet the Expert
Jaime Bronstein is a relationship therapist, coach, and host of Love Talk Live on LA Talk Radio
Signs a Relationship Will Succeed
While every couple functions differently, Bronstein says there are a few ingredients all successful relationships have.
You Have Fun Together
"A couple that plays together stays together," says Bronstein. "A successful marriage consists of two people who can be light-hearted and genuinely enjoy each other's company." If you and your partner laugh a lot and love being around each other, it's a good sign for the future.
But the fun doesn't have to happen naturally. Both people in a relationship can make fun plans to ensure there is time for laughing and letting loose. "Whether it's a movie or game night in, going on vacation, or a date night on the town, make sure to intentionally schedule time for fun and laughter," explains Bronstein. "It carries a relationship forward."
You Thrive and Grow Together
If both of you are invested in each other, you are on the right track. Together, you grow as individuals and as a couple. "You're not just surviving and getting through every day," she says. "You are growing both individually and as a couple and working on your relationship versus neglecting it."
You Prioritize Each Other
Bronstein said it's important in a marriage that "both people know that they are each other's priority." This is particularly true when life gets busy. If you or your partner are skipping date night to work or not making time to check in throughout the day, you might want to re-examine your priorities.
You Accept One Another Purely
In a strong relationship both people know their partners fully, the good and the bad, and accept one another as is. "The couple accepts and loves each other unconditionally, no matter what," says Bronstein.
You are Comfortable Communicating
Being able to work through any issues that arise is key. And the way to do that is by having clear and comfortable communication. "Each person speaks their mind and shares their feelings, and the other person validates without judgment," says Bronstein. "Both people feel seen and heard. There is no resentment or contempt and no grudges being held. The couple knows how to forgive one another."
You have New Experiences
Some relationships can get into a rut with both partners feeling bored and stale. The way to rectify that, explains Bronstein, is to regularly have new experiences. "When couples have new experiences, their oxytocin levels rise, which makes them feel more bonded and connected," she says. "Do novel things together; break the routine, and you'll see that there will be more depth to the relationship and more joy."
Signs a Relationship Needs Work
Every couple has the ability to work on their relationship to ensure it succeeds. It's a choice whether you want to do the work to make it through the long haul. There are some red flags that show a marriage might be in danger if nothing is done.
Not Validating Each Other's Feelings
Bronstein explains that one of the most dangerous things a couple can do is not validate each other's feelings. In these relationships, the couple judges each other instead of being understanding and supportive. Once someone in a relationship feels on their own, emotionally—like their partner doesn't have their back or even care—trust can break down and a relationship can head for failure.
Wishing One Another Would be Different
Another red flag for a relationship is "wishing that the other one would be different or change in any way versus accepting them for who they are," says Bronstein. Sure, most people have something they don't like about their partner. But harping on it or wishing it would be different will only build up anger and resentment. Instead, try focusing on the positives and accepting the things you cannot change.
When You Sacrifice Too Much for Your Partner
Of course, every relationship requires sacrifice, but if you are in a relationship where you are giving up everything that is important to you or you can't fully be yourself, that is a red flag, says Bronstein. "It's about being out of one's integrity in a relationship," she says. "Or not staying true to themselves to appease the other person."
Lack of Trust
"Without trust, a relationship has no foundation to stand on," explains Bronstein. Maybe your partner cheated on you or broke your trust in a big way? Or maybe you have an overall uneasy feeling about your partner like you aren't totally getting the truth all the time. If this feels like you, your relationship might need some work to get to a more stable place.
Sure, every couple fights sometimes. But if you are fighting more than you are peaceful, this can be a red flag. Or if you are having the same fight over and over again that you can't resolve yourself, that might be a good time to seek out professional help.
How to Improve Your Relationship's Chance for Success
There are some steps you can take to help your odds of making it as a couple, suggests Bronstein. The first thing you can do is to be very open from the get-go. "Have the difficult conversations and be extremely honest about your morals, values, opinions, and needs regarding important life topics like finances, religion, lifestyle, and children," she says. "The couple doesn't necessarily have to agree on everything, but it helps to be on the same page. For example, if the couple has different religious beliefs, the marriage can be successful if they respect one another. On the other hand, a couple who practices different religions and can't compromise on how they would raise their future children; that's a problem."
She also believes in seeking professional help, even before there is a crisis. "I always recommend counseling, therapy, or coaching from a trained professional," she says. "It's nice to have a place to be completely honest with an unbiased third party available to help the couple see things that perhaps they aren't seeing, all in service to strengthening the relationship so they can be set up for a successful marriage."