When you get into a new relationship, you can never predict the outcome. But for the most part, growing old with your partner might be the ideal if that's what you're looking for. Unfortunately, it won't be easy and not every couple is meant to last a lifetime. But if you and your partner already do a few small things in your relationship right now, experts say your chances of growing old together are very good.
There isn't just one thing you and your partner can do to make your relationship last. It really is a combination of so many different factors like compatbility and timing. But regardless of what comes your way, experts say there is one thing that can help increase your chance of making it work — communication.
"Successful long-term couples feel comfortable expressing their emotions with their partner so they can quickly clear the blocks that can easily build up in a domestic situation," Xanet Pailet, Intimacy coach and author of Living an Orgasmic Life, tells Bustle.
Relationship longevity requires partners to be able to accept and work through inevitable disappointments. According to Pailet, relationships are "20 percent disappointment" across the board. "Couples who are in successful long-term relationships understand that and have tools to deal with it," she says.
Spending the rest of your life with someone is a really long time. You really need the proper tools like good communication skills to get there. But if you and your partner do the following things, experts say, you're more likely to grow old together.
Maintain A Positive Friendship
"While there are numerous reasons that people are initially attracted — love, sexual attraction, the desire for children, financial security —the glue that keeps most couples together long-term is lasting friendship," Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. Maintaining a positive friendship with your partner is as simple as caring about them, asking about their day, and actually listening. "In my opinion a friend is someone who helps you feel better about yourself just by being with them," Englander says. If you can be that person, you and your partner can grow old together.
Have Awkward Talks
When you're looking to spend the rest of your life with someone, you need to be willing to hash out the tough stuff. "Fearless communication is key to building trust," Kate Romero, relationship life coach, tells Bustle. "I find that strong and healthy communication is the best aphrodisiac there is." When there's open communication and trust in your relationship, you can maintain a partnership that lasts.
Practice "Compassionate Acceptance"
"Perfectionist expectations can influence our happiness on many levels, including in our relationships," Laura Federico MS, LCSW, licensed clinical psychotherapist, tells Bustle. As nice as it would be to have the "perfect" relationship, it's pretty close impossible. If you can accept the fact that you, your partner, and your relationship won't ever be perfect, you're less likely to start a fight when things don't go exactly how you envision it. "When you feel overly critical thoughts becoming overwhelming, check in with yourself," Federico says. You can create a positive mantra to use in these moments like "I am grateful that I have a wonderful relationship with a partner who loves me," so you can overcome any negativity that enters your mind.
Shop For Groceries Together
"This is an overlooked and underrated experience that not only bonds couples, it helps them learn about each other," relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "Many couples who have been together for a long time, are still surprised that one prefers white horseradish over red, or that one [doesn't like] kiwis because they have no idea how to cut or eat them." These little surprises and learning experiences happen because you're together at the grocery store. It gives you the opportunity to share fun stories from childhood based on the foods you see. "Everyone has to eat to survive," she says. "If you can make this an activity that you both enjoy doing together, it’s something you can do as you grow old together."
Have Your "Me Time"
"Although its important to spend quality time with your partner, it’s just as crucial to spend time with yourself," Backe says. Healthy relationships that are built to last are made up of two individuals who are happy with themselves and choose to share their lives with another person. "You want to enhance each other, not meld into one being," he says. Giving each other space will allow you to maintain a good relationship without losing yourselves to it.
Listen To Each Other Without Any Distractions
"The main thing is to give your partner your undivided attention when [they are] talking to you, just like you did when you were first dating," Bracha Goetz, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. Think back to your first date. Chances are, you weren't on your phone the entire time. You were eager to talk and get to know your partner. So keep it that way. If you stop trying to multi-task when you're communicating, Goetz says it will be like your first date never ended.
Make Everyday Memories Together
If you want a relationship that lasts, the small things really matter. "Crazy, fun things you will be able to reminisce about fondly don’t have to cost a lot," Mike Bennett, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. "You might have more memories from bike riding, paddle boating or fossil hunting than from a cruise you worry about paying off." It's all about feeling gratitude and finding ways to be thankful for your relationship each day. Treating each small moment with your partner as a memory you can cherish can help you stay together for a long time.
Spend Time In Each Other's Arms
If you want to grow old with your partner, make it a habit to spend two minutes a day in a close hug and embrace. "This is not a perfunctory hug but a really slow, deep, hug where you are both present and connected with each other," Pailet says. "This little touch of daily intimacy keeps the fires burning and makes you feel cared for by your partner."
Fighting with your partner doesn't mean your relationship isn't meant to be. All couples fight. But as Dave Jenkins, Certified Relationship Coach, tells Bustle, how you fight will determine whether or not you and your partner will grow old together. "No hitting below the belt by bringing up past issues that have been solved or exposing your dirty laundry in front of others," Jenkins says.
Genuinely Enjoy Being With Each Other
"Enjoy each other’s company and spending time together regardless of what you’re doing," licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA, tells Bustle. If you can sit in silence with your partner and be completely content, that's a pretty good indicator that you can happily grow old together.
No couples makes it to their 20, 30, or even 50 year anniversary without putting in the work. Growing old with someone has its share of ups and downs, and you need the right tools in order to reach that point. But if you and your partner already do these small things, you're on your way there.