WholeLife Matrix: Relationships – Significant Other / Staying Power
“The secret of a long life…laughter.  The secret of a long-lasting relationship…laughing together.”  — Unknown

Have you ever wondered why some relationships are short-lived while others last a long time?  Many of us would like to have a great partner in our lives and have a wonderful long-term relationship with them.  Having good compatibility with this person physically, intellectually, emotionally, with shared activities and common goals increases the likelihood that you will have a lasting relationship.  When looking for a long-lasting partner, it is a good idea to identify these areas of compatibility early to determine whether pursuing a relationship will be worthwhile for you both.

1.  Compatibility Exercise

On a piece of paper, make lists of the physical, intellectual and emotional characteristics that you would like your ideal partner to have and the shared activities and common goals you would like to have with them. Also consider habits such as smoking and whether you want someone who wants children, already has children, or has no children. Rank each item as a “Must Have”, “Should Have”, or “Could Have”.  You might also have your partner or potential partner try this exercise, or you can answer the questions based on what you think their responses would be.  Then you can compare your responses to their responses and see how compatible you may be in each area.  Since people and relationships change, a couple can change in areas of compatibility; they may in time come closer or move apart in certain areas.  However, it is important to begin with a strong core foundation of compatibility so that those shifts will be less likely to negatively impact the relationship.  Understanding each other’s core priorities and connecting in ways that are important to both partners will help to create a long-lasting relationship.

2.  Do you Trust Each Other?

Trust is the foundation of a good relationship and respect and kindness are also important.  Has your partner proven himself or herself to be dependable and treats you and others with honesty and consideration?

3.  Does Your Partner Help to Bring Out the Best in You?
Just as different friends can bring out different sides of you, so can a romantic partner.  They may make you feel and act more or less confident, patient, attractive etc.  Pay attention and note what situations bring out particular sides of you.  Fundamentally, does your partner trigger the better or worse sides of you and do you like yourself in the relationship?

4.  Do You Communicate Positively with Each Other?

Great communication is an essential part of a relationship. When, instead of showing respect for each other, one or both of the partners in a relationship holds negative feelings of disdain toward the other, such as criticism, sarcasm, or harsh judgment, divorce becomes likely. When an issue comes up, an ineffective communicator tends to attack the partner instead of focusing on the issue. This is known as being “tough on the person and soft on the issue.”  In contrast, an effective communicator will focus on the issue and not the person.  Are you and your partner tough on each other or the issue and does your partner’s communication style generally lift you up or put you down?  If you find that you and your partner are experiencing communication issues, if you are both willing to learn news skills, it is possible to quickly learn them to improve your relationship.

5.  Do You and Your Partner Handle Conflict Within the Relationship Effectively?

Couples that are not effective at resolving conflict typically fight and stay mad for long periods of time (sometimes even years), avoid addressing important issues, or emotionally freeze in a relationship after being unable to resolve the issues.  On the other hand, couples with successful relationships focus on quickly addressing and taking care of an issue and then letting it go and moving on.  Even when they are upset, they still stay close to their partner and learn from their challenges.

6.  How do You and Your Partner Handle External Challenges?

In long-lasting relationships, partners support each other when challenges arise and when times are tough, which can create a unique bond.  Do you and your partner act maturely in the face of adversity; does it bring you closer together or pull you apart?  Can you share the bad times, or only the good times?

7.  Are Your Financial Values Compatible?

Couples who agree about finances are more likely to stay together.  One of the main reasons for divorce is disagreements about money, so it is good to have a partner that you are financially compatible with for a long-term relationship.  You can see signs of a person’s financial values early in a relationship such as who they believe should pay for dates, what types of gifts or purchases they value, and what they give to others including volunteering their time or giving donations. Are you and your partner mostly happy with what you have or do you want to acquire more?  It is important that you and your partner address financial differences early and can resolve issues as a team, and seek financial and couples counseling as needed.  Creating a financial plan is essential to helping you and your partner stay on track financially and for addressing future financial needs such as having a family or planning for retirement.

In the WholeLife Matrix, we have four aspects for developing relationships with staying power:

1.  Common Purpose
2.  Common Morals
3.  Focus on the Positive
4.  Defined FutureWhether you are single, dating, or in a committed relationship, these guidelines will help you to build a healthy relationship with staying power.


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