What you believe about relationships in general can affect the destiny of the relationship you are in. So couples who hold certain healthy beliefs about relationships, even if they run against the grain, tend to stand the test of time a bit better than others. Holding on to certain truths can help people in love withstand the inevitable difficulties of being in a long-term relationship.
Having preconceived notions about what relationships are, or should be, can end up being quite toxic. Similar types of conviction, however, can be powerful forces for good in your relationship. "All actions ultimately start from beliefs and expectations, so having a belief about a relationship will have a big impact on how a person behaves in a relationship," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Having specific beliefs that steer clear of black-and-white thinking, and hold room for more nuance and forgiveness over the course of a relationship, often tend to be the healthiest.
Couples that don't automatically assume the worst, or the best, of one another just because they've made a commitment can allow more growth and understanding. Just because certain beliefs are more likely to indicate a relationship may be successful, does not mean that these beliefs are limiting the couple in any way.
Here are 11 things that, if couples don't believe, can mean they're more likely to have problems, according to experts.
Relationships Are A Work In Progress
Couples who strive for perfection may be cutting themselves short. Those who understand that relationships require moment-to-moment effort may find more success.
"'Perfection' does not allow any room for mistakes, conflicts, [or] misunderstandings, and those are a part of every relationship," Jovanovic says. Knowing that things will always be a work in progress, and that there is always room for transformation, keeps the healthiest couples going.
Happy Couples Argue
Arguments aren't the problem in relationships; how you argue is. So successful couples know that even happy couples argue, they just figure out how to do so without causing too much damage.
"All happy couples argue," Jess O’Reilly, PhD., host of the Mindful Sex Video Course, tells Bustle. "And arguments can be good for the relationship, as they can help you to better understand one another’s needs, make adjustments to accommodate one another and release tension to ward off bigger fights in the long run." Learning how to have healthy arguments can help keep this belief from becoming toxic.
Arguments Don't Have "Winners" And "Losers"
It's vital that couples don't believe that arguments have to lead to one person "winning" and the other "losing" in order to find resolution. Those who believe that arguments are more nuanced than this are more likely to succeed in the long run.
"You will inevitably disagree and argue," Dr. Jess says. "However, if your arguments are focused on winning as opposed to fostering deeper understanding, it will likely be detrimental to a happy relationship." Looking for win-wins can help.
Relationships Aren't Supposed To Be Hard
While relationships require work, if a couple believes that relationships are, by their very nature, difficult, then they may be shooting themselves in the foot.
"If you view relationships as hard, then they are likely to appear hard, and this may magnify the importance of little things that aren't really that difficult objectively," Bennett says. Successful couples may allow a bit more room for gray area, and understand that relationships can be hard, but that they don't always have to be.
Relationships Are Fun
The opposite of couples who believe that relationships are meant to be difficult is those who believe that they're meant to be fun. Holding the belief that relationships should be enjoyable doesn't mean shutting out disagreements and vulnerability, but it does allow some more room for joy.
"While relationships won't always be completely happy, if you come with the idea that relationships are fun, then they are more likely to be," Bennett says. "I work with partners who are happy people in most areas of their lives — but take their relationships dead seriously — and it shows." Those who don't see their relationship as a burden may be more likely to flourish.
Love Doesn't Have To Be Unconditional
Sometimes, a "ride-or-die" mentality can be really harmful. Couples who succeed don't have to believe that their love for one another is unconditional. To the contrary, healthy couples understand that love is not an obligation.
"While love shouldn't be given and taken on a whim, if you are with a partner who mistreats you, abuses you, or who doesn't want the best for you, you are under no obligation to give this partner love in the future simply because you gave them love in the past," Bennett says. Knowing this reality can keep things sturdy in the long-run.
You Can Learn From Your Mistakes
Successful couples understand that mistakes can be worked through. Those who believe in a one-strike policy may not last as long in a relationship.
"A healthier belief about relationships is 'we can learn from our mistakes,'" licensed marriage and family therapist Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, tells Bustle. "It gives you permission to be imperfect and vulnerable, which potentially can make you feel less defensive, more understood, and even closer." Plus, it may help you forgive your partner more when they mess up as well.
Not All Conflict Needs To Be Resolved
"Not all conflict needs to be resolved," Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D., author and licensed clinical psychologist at The Aiki Relationship Institute, tells Bustle. "[...] Some rough edges will not smooth out and couples need to learn to manage them." Couples who know that they don't have to agree on everything may be holding a more practical belief set for long-term love.
Sexual Growth Is Important
Believing that your first few moments of intimacy, or chemistry alone, can predict the entire future of your sex life, can be hurtful to a relationship.
"Those who believe in sexual destiny are worse off than those who believe in sexual growth," Dr. Jess says. "That is, if you believe that sex involves learning and effort (growth), you’re more likely to have a satisfying sex life and fulfilling relationship — and you’re better able to face challenges when they arise." Because of this, the most successful couples are often those who know that even sex grows and changes over the years.
Misunderstanding Is Normal
Couples that know that misunderstanding and disagreement aren't direct signs of incompatibility are much more likely to find success in a long-term relationship, according to experts.
"Misunderstanding is normal," Dr. Sharp says. "Communication is a complicated thing and misunderstanding happens in all communication. The important thing to do in relationships is to learn to address misunderstanding and move through them productively and constructively rather than to avoid them." Holding onto a belief that conflict is inherently negative can hurt a couple's chance at success.
Many of the beliefs that help predict strong relationships are beliefs that allow room for growth, change, or nuance. These successful couples often know that what happens in a relationship isn't inherently good or bad; it's how you react to different circumstances that matters. Still, what you believe in a relationship can reflect very seriously on how it plays out, so it's important not to hold on too tightly to toxic beliefs, and to try to adopt more forgiving ones.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.