15 Ways To Know Your Relationship Is Truly Stable, Even If It Feels Rocky
All relationships are difficult, and it's normal to feel like common long-term relationship problems may spell out serious challenges for you and your partner. Over the years, you will argue with your partner. And go through tough times. And encounter a few less-than-ideal situations. That's just the way life works, and weathering those moments together is part of being in a relationship.
But when your lives are a bit rockier than usual — or there's been an ongoing issue — it can leave you questioning whether or not your relationship is going to survive. And when that happens, it's important to look for signs your relationship is still stable, in spite of it all.
"A stable relationship is a relationship that is built upon loyalty, trust, safety and consistency," licensed marriage and family therapist Christie Tcharkhoutian, a matchmaker at Three Day Rule, tells Bustle. "When you can trust you partner and their character is consistent, the relationship has a strong foundation upon which to build."
And, if you have that, it doesn't really matter what life throws your way. Here are a few ways experts say your relationship will stay strong, even if things are rough right now.
1. You Have A 5-to-1 Ratio
Does your relationship have a 5-to-1 ratio or happy times to sad times? Here's what it means: "Happy couples that stay together experience five good moments for every one tough moment," relationship and life coach Keren Eldad tells Bustle. So take a look at your average day. There might be a few disagreements or bouts of bickering. But is the majority of your time together happy and peaceful? If so, it's a great sign.
2. You Feel Comfortable During Sex
Whether you're doing something a bit out of the ordinary, or simply having your usual Friday sex night, it should all feel comfortable. Thrilling and exciting sometimes, yes. But also safe and comfy. "This is the kind of sex you have when you really trust each other, when you can be seen," Eldad says. And, it's a sign of stability.
3. It Doesn't Seem To Matter Who Is "Right"
Couples argue, and that's OK. But what you want is a partnership where you're both able to let unimportant things go, and not keep fighting just because you want to be right.
As Erika Boissiere, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco tells Bustle, "This way of relating allows the couple [to let] go of the competition for 'who’s right' and into a healthier direction of trying to understand each other’s points of view, which allows for movement, understanding, and most of all, healthy communication."
4. They Can See Your Perspective, And Vice Versa
In the height of an argument, it's a great sign if you can remain on the same team, and fully see and understand where the other is coming from. "Even in the midst of disagreements, if you are able to understand why your partner thinks or reacts in a certain way, this is a good sign that you are able to be empathetic towards your partner, which is a key for stable and happy relationships," says Tcharkhoutian.
5. You Don't Give Each Other The "Silent Treatment"
How you act after a disagreement can reveal a lot about the stability of your relationship, too. "A big sign that your relationship is stable, even when it feels rocky, is that after arguments, you are able repair without the 'silent treatment,'" says Tcharkhoutian. "When you are able to have a conversation and communicate when you are upset, your relationship is steady and secure."
6. You're Both Super Predictable
By predictable, I don't mean boring. What I mean is you're both stable, and have values that you stick to, even when times get tough. "If your partner has displayed a consistency of character over time, then your relationship may be more stable than you think," Tcharkhoutian says.
7. You'd Still Like To Plan For The Future
After a rough patch, there's always hope if you're still down to stick together, and think about the future.
"Couples that are in a troubled relationship but can still plan for the future are often in a better place than they think," counselor Monte Drenner tells Bustle. "Planning a future together implies a desire to be with that person through the the highs and the lows, which over time will give them opportunities to learn how to build a more stable relationship."
8. When Arguments Arise, You Always Fight Fair
Again, arguing isn't so much the problem, as much as how you both act while doing so. "People in stable relationships avoid name calling, disrespect, and blaming during arguments," couples therapist Theresa Herring, LMFT tells Bustle. "They insert humor and touch to diffuse conflict." In doing so, you're telling each other that everything's OK.
9. You're Both Willing To Attend To Each Other's Needs
It's not the end of the world if you have an ongoing issues or two. But it is something you should be willing to address, and work on, as a couple.
"When a couple is able to attend to the needs of one another surrounding this recurring issue, it's a sign that they're on the right track, therapist Renée Pigsley tells Bustle. "Partners in a stable relationship don't argue about the same issue whenever they see the opportunity." They make an effort to put negative feelings aside, and to better understand each other.
10. You're Involved In Each Other's Lives
Are you both involved in each other's lives, in a healthy way? "Being involved in your partner's life means knowing what they're working towards, knowing who their close friends are, knowing what they like/dislike, and knowing what makes up their personality," licensed marriage and family therapist Racine R. Henry, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. "If you're in a stable relationship, you know intimate details of your partner's life, which means you spend time listening to them and you are engaged in their life's journey."
11. They Always Stand Up For You
People outside your relationship can make things feel rocky, perhaps by inserting drama into both your lives. But what counts is how your partner reacts to it. As Henry says, if partner has your back, they should be ready to stand up for you, especially if someone in their life is treating you badly or disrespecting you. Because that's not OK.
12. You Have Created Rituals As A Couple
Couples who are in an unstable relationship often don't have the time or energy to create little traditions as a couple. So take it as an excellent sign if you two have a few rituals.
"Happy, healthy, stable relationships all have a number of rituals that the partners create and maintain," licensed therapist and relationship expert Sarah E. Clark, LMFT, LMHC, CVRT tells Bustle. "That looks different for every couple. Maybe it’s a set date night, or maybe it’s that you cook dinner together on a particular day. Perhaps you have a consistent habit around a specific interest or holiday. It doesn’t matter what the ritual is as long as both people value it. The more relationship rituals you have, the more stable your relationship will be."
13. You Can Spend Time Apart
Happily spending time apart, and being able to do your own thing, is one of the keys to a stable relationship, Henry says. It's also a sign things are stable, since codependent couples often feel unable to do so.
14. Your Needs Are Still Being Met
Even though things feel a bit chaotic right now, it's important that both your needs are still being met — in whatever way that's important to you. As Henry says, "If both partners feel that they are getting everything they want/need from the other person, the relationship is probably a stable one."
15. Things Seem Equal And Fair
The moment one of you has more power than the other, consider your relationship unequal, and unstable. "People in a stable relationship have a give and take. Neither person runs the show," Herring says. "Both partners' emotional needs are prioritized and they accept the influence of the other when making decisions."
But if your relationship with your partner feels balanced, and you're ticking off most of the signs mentioned above, you've probably got a healthy, stable relationship on your hands — even if things aren't 100 percent perfect right now.