May 6, 2023 |Gideon Hanekom

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Long-term relationships can be tough to maintain, yet successful couples share characteristics we can learn from. And understanding and possessing these qualities is critical for anyone seeking a good and healthy relationship. Thus, whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your current relationship to the next level, here are 10 essential things couples in strong relationships have in common to make it last.

Intro – Why is it important for couples to have things in common?

When it comes to building a strong and lasting relationship, there are a number of factors that can come into play.

From communication and trust to commitment and shared values, many different elements contribute to the success of a relationship.

However, one key factor often overlooked is the importance of having things in common.

Couples who share interests, hobbies, and values are more likely to feel connected and bonded, which can be a critical component of a healthy relationship.

Having things in common can provide a sense of unity and shared purpose and can help couples build a strong foundation to withstand life’s ups and downs together.

In this blog post, we will explore the top 10 essential things couples in strong relationships have in common.

We will discuss why each of these factors is so important and provide practical tips for how you and your partner can work together to strengthen your bond and build a strong and lasting relationship.

Whether you are just starting out as a couple or have been together for years, this post will provide valuable insights and strategies for building a healthy and fulfilling relationship based on shared interests and values.

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

Top 10 Most Important things couples in strong relationships have in Common

Because studies focus on different factors, research on the most important things in a relationship varies.

However, when examining the data as a whole, there appear to be common themes that appear frequently, as shown below.

It is not an exhaustive list, but it reflects some of the most important aspects you should think about sharing as a couple.

These also reflect the most important characteristics that couples in healthy relationships share, so it’s a good idea to be aware of them.

You can make your own list and believe what you want, but why ignore what healthy couples already know and do?

For the sake of brevity, we won’t go into too much detail about each of them.

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

The more important goal here is for you to gain awareness and understanding of the most important things to have in common in a relationship, with the goal of developing various action steps to develop these in your own relationship.

1. Shared values and beliefs

When it comes to building and maintaining a strong relationship, having shared values and beliefs is crucial. These can include political views, religious beliefs, attitudes toward money and spending, and even preferences for how to spend free time.

According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, couples who share similar values and beliefs are more likely to experience satisfaction in their relationships and feel more connected to their partner (Lavner, Karney, & Bradbury, 2014).

This makes sense, as having similar values and beliefs means that you and your partner are on the same page about what’s important in life and can work together to achieve common goals.

It’s also important to note that having similar values and beliefs doesn’t necessarily mean that couples have to agree on everything.

In fact, it’s healthy for partners to have some differences in their beliefs, as this can lead to interesting conversations and opportunities for growth.

However, having too many fundamental differences in values and beliefs can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

For example, if one partner values financial stability above all else and the other partner is a free-spirited spender, this can lead to ongoing tension and disagreements about how to manage money.

To avoid these kinds of conflicts, it’s important for couples to have open and honest conversations about their values and beliefs early on in the relationship. This can help both partners understand where the other is coming from and make compromises where necessary.

Overall, shared values and beliefs are essential to building and maintaining a strong, healthy relationship.

By being open and honest about your beliefs and working together to find common ground, you and your partner can enjoy a deep, fulfilling connection that lasts a lifetime.

2. Goals and aspirations

Having shared goals and aspirations is another important aspect of strong and healthy relationships.

Couples with similar ambitions and goals tend to work together towards achieving them, strengthening their bond and creating a sense of unity.

Research conducted by Paul Amato and Jacob Cheadle (2005) found that couples who share goals and aspirations tend to have higher relationship satisfaction and are less likely to experience divorce.

This is because shared goals and aspirations can provide a sense of purpose and direction in the relationship.

Having shared goals and aspirations does not mean that couples have to have identical aspirations.

In fact, having different aspirations can be healthy for the relationship as long as they are compatible and complementary. For example, one partner may aspire to climb the corporate ladder, while the other may prioritize starting a family.

As long as they are supportive of each other’s goals and work towards achieving them together, their differences can strengthen their bond.

According to Dr John Gottman, couples should take time to identify their shared goals and work towards achieving them together (Gottman & Silver, 2015). This can be anything from saving for a vacation to buying a house.

By setting goals and working towards achieving them together, couples can create a sense of teamwork and deepen their emotional connection.

In summary, having shared goals and aspirations is crucial for a healthy and strong relationship.

Couples who work towards achieving their goals together tend to have higher relationship satisfaction and are less likely to experience divorce.

As long as the goals are compatible and complementary, differences in aspirations can strengthen the relationship.

3. A shared sense of humour

A shared sense of humour is another essential aspect of strong relationships.

Being able to laugh together creates positive emotions and helps to build a strong bond between partners.

Humour can help to ease tension and conflict and can also make even the most mundane situations more enjoyable.

According to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, partners who share a similar sense of humour report higher levels of relationship satisfaction (Wilbur & Campbell, 2011). The ability to make each other laugh is also associated with increased intimacy and feelings of closeness.

In addition, a study published in the Journal Personal Relationships found that couples who share a similar sense of humour are more likely to stay together over the long term (Martin & Lefcourt, 1983).

This is because humour can help to strengthen the emotional bond between partners and can also serve as a buffer during difficult times.

It’s important to note that having a shared sense of humour doesn’t mean that partners have to find the same things funny all the time.

Rather, it’s about having an appreciation for each other’s sense of humour and being able to laugh together.

Overall, a shared sense of humour can help create a positive emotional environment and make partners more resilient in the face of challenges.

It helps to create positive emotions, build intimacy, and make partners more resilient in the face of challenges.

It’s therefore important that couples make an effort to find ways to incorporate humour into their daily lives, whether that’s through sharing jokes or watching funny movies together.

4. Interests and hobbies

Having shared interests and hobbies is important to a strong and healthy relationship.

When couples have shared hobbies and interests, they are able to bond over common activities, share experiences, and learn from each other.

This can lead to increased closeness and intimacy between partners. In fact, research has shown that having shared interests is a key factor in marital satisfaction (Noller & Feeney, 2002).

In another study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, couples who engage in leisure activities together report higher levels of marital satisfaction (Proulx et al., 2007).

It’s important to note that having shared interests doesn’t mean that couples have to be exactly alike.

In fact, having some differences in interests can lead to new experiences and opportunities to learn from each other.

It’s also important for couples to respect each other’s interests and hobbies, even if they don’t share the same enthusiasm for them.

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

Some common shared hobbies and interests among couples include:

  1. Travelling – exploring new places and cultures together can be an exciting and bonding experience.
  2. Exercise and fitness – going for a run or hitting the gym together can be a great way to stay healthy and bond as a couple.
  3. Cooking and baking – trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen can be a fun and creative way to spend time together.
  4. Sports – whether it’s playing a pick-up game of basketball or rooting for your favourite team, sports can be a great way to bond over a shared passion.
  5. Music and the arts – attending concerts or art shows together can be a way to appreciate each other’s tastes and explore new forms of creativity.

By finding and sharing common interests and hobbies, couples can strengthen their bond and create a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.

5. Level of Commitment

Shared levels of commitment are a key aspect of any strong relationship.

It’s important for both partners to be committed to the relationship, to each other, and to the goals they have set as a couple.

When both partners are committed, they’re able to build trust, support each other, and work together to overcome challenges.

Research has shown that couples who share similar levels of commitment are more likely to have a strong and lasting relationship.

In fact, a study by Stanley and Markman (1992) found that shared commitment was a stronger predictor of relationship satisfaction than even shared interests or shared values.

So, how do you know if you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to commitment?

It’s important to have open and honest conversations about your expectations for the relationship, both now and in the future.

Some couples might be comfortable with a more casual relationship, while others might be looking for something more serious and long-term.

It’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

Another important aspect of shared commitment is the ability to work through tough times together.

When you and your partner are both committed to the relationship, you’re more likely to be able to work through challenges and come out stronger on the other side.

A study by Rhoades, Stanley, and Markman (2010) found that couples who were committed to each other were more likely to have positive outcomes even after experiencing significant stress or conflict.

In summary, shared levels of commitment are a crucial component of any strong and healthy relationship.

When both partners are committed to the relationship, they’re able to build trust, support each other, and work together to overcome challenges.

It’s therefore important to have open and honest conversations about your expectations for the relationship to ensure that you’re both on the same page.

6. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important aspect of any strong relationship, and couples who share emotional intelligence tend to have a more fulfilling and intimate connection.

Emotional intelligence essentially refers to a person’s ability to recognize, understand, and regulate their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

In a study conducted by Gottman Institute, it was found that couples who have high levels of emotional intelligence have a much lower rate of divorce than those who don’t.

This is because individuals with high emotional intelligence are better able to communicate their needs and feelings to their partners, resolve conflicts in a constructive manner, and maintain a positive emotional connection.

Another study published in the Journal Emotion found that couples who were able to accurately identify each other’s emotions were more likely to report satisfaction in their relationship.

This suggests that being attuned to your partner’s emotions and responding appropriately can strengthen the bond between partners.

But it’s important to note that emotional intelligence is not something that people are born with – it can be learned and developed over time.

Here are several ways that couples can work on developing their emotional intelligence together:

  • Practising active listening: This involves truly focusing on what your partner is saying and validating their emotions. It’s important to refrain from interrupting, making assumptions, or getting defensive.
  • Practising empathy: This involves putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and trying to understand their perspective. This can be helpful when resolving conflicts or dealing with difficult emotions.
  • Being open and honest: This involves being vulnerable and expressing your own emotions in a healthy way. It can be helpful to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements, which can come off as accusatory or judgmental.
  • Seeking professional help: If you’re struggling with emotional intelligence in your relationship, it can be helpful to seek the guidance of a therapist or counsellor who can provide tools and strategies for developing this skill.

7. Conflict resolution style

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but it’s how couples handle disagreements that can make or break a relationship.

In fact, research has found that couples who share similar conflict resolution styles are more likely to have a successful relationship.

One study conducted by the Gottman Institute found that couples who had similar conflict resolution styles were more likely to have a successful marriage.

The study also found that couples who had different conflict resolution styles were more likely to have a negative relationship outcome. (Gottman, Coan, Carrere, & Swanson, 1998)

Another study found that couples who engaged in constructive conflict resolution, such as actively listening to each other’s perspectives and using “I” statements instead of “you” statements, reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction. (Rauer, Karney, Garvan, & Hou, 2008)

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

On the other hand, couples who engaged in destructive conflict resolution, such as name-calling and stonewalling, were more likely to experience relationship distress (Gottman, 1994).

It’s, therefore, important for couples to not only have similar conflict resolution styles but also to be willing to learn and adapt to their partner’s style. But that requires open communication and a willingness to compromise.

In essence, having a similar conflict resolution style can greatly contribute to the success of a relationship, which is why it’s important for couples to be aware of their own conflict resolution style and be willing to work together to find a mutually beneficial approach to resolving conflicts.

8. Financial habits and beliefs

As most of us know, money is (can be) a major source of conflict in many relationships, making it essential for couples to have similar financial habits and beliefs to build a strong financial foundation.

Here are some reasons why financial compatibility is essential in a relationship:

  1. Similar attitudes towards money lead to a healthier relationship: According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, financial stress is a significant contributor to relationship problems. Couples who share similar attitudes towards money tend to have fewer disagreements about finances, leading to a healthier and happier relationship.
  2. A shared vision for financial goals leads to success: Couples who have similar financial goals and aspirations tend to be more successful in achieving them. This shared vision promotes teamwork and helps couples work together to achieve their goals.
  3. Understanding each other’s spending habits promotes trust: When couples have similar spending habits, it is easier to trust each other when it comes to financial matters. This leads to better communication and more open discussions about money.
  4. Differences in financial beliefs can lead to conflict: Financial compatibility is not just about having similar spending habits. It is also about sharing similar beliefs about money. Differences in financial beliefs can lead to conflict and cause stress in a relationship.

Some experts suggest couples who communicate regularly about money are more likely to be financially compatible.

They are also more likely to achieve their financial goals and have a stronger relationship.

But where do you start if you struggle to talk about money-issues?

Here are some resources that can help couples build financial compatibility:

  1. “The 5 Money Personalities” by Scott and Bethany Palmer: This book explores the different ways that people approach money and provides insights into how couples can work together to achieve their financial goals.
  2. “Money Harmony” by Olivia Mellan: This book provides a framework for identifying and understanding your financial personality and offers practical strategies for working with your partner to achieve financial harmony.
  3. “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey: This book provides a step-by-step guide to achieving financial freedom and building a strong financial foundation.
  4. “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez: This book offers a holistic approach to money management and helps couples align their financial goals with their values and priorities.

The point here is, that by building a strong financial foundation, couples can reduce stress and conflict in their relationship and work together towards a shared financial future.

9. Trust

Trust is a crucial component of any strong and healthy relationship.

Without trust, it is difficult (impossible) for couples to feel secure and confident in their relationship, which can lead to feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and doubt.

Conversely, when couples share a strong sense of trust, they can rely on one another and feel secure in their relationship, which helps them to build a deeper and more meaningful connection.

According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, trust is one of the most important factors in maintaining long-term romantic relationships (Rempel, Holmes, & Zanna, 1985).

Couples who trust each other are more likely to feel satisfied in their relationship and less likely to experience conflicts or misunderstandings.

One important aspect of trust is being honest and transparent with one another. Couples who are open and honest with each other are more likely to feel a sense of trust and security in their relationship.

According to another study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, couples who are open and honest with each other about their finances are more likely to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction (Dew, Britt, & Huston, 2012).

Another important aspect of trust is being reliable and dependable.

When couples can count on one another to follow through on their commitments and promises, they can build a sense of trust and security in their relationship.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that couples who view their partners as reliable and dependable are more likely to trust them and feel satisfied in their relationship (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007).

The long and short of it is, trust is an essential component of any strong and healthy relationship.

When couples share a strong sense of trust, they can rely on one another and feel secure in their relationship, which helps them to build a deeper and more meaningful connection.

10. Mutual Respect

Mutual respect is another fundamental aspect of any strong relationship, including romantic relationships.

It means treating each other with dignity and courtesy, valuing each other’s opinions, and being considerate of each other’s feelings.

And couples who have mutual respect for each other are more likely to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Studies have shown that mutual respect is an essential component of relationship satisfaction and stability. For example, a study by Gottman and colleagues (2000) found that couples who exhibited mutual respect were more likely to have long-lasting, happy relationships.

Furthermore, mutual respect is closely linked to effective communication.

Things Couples in Strong Relationships Have in Common

When both partners feel valued and respected, they are more likely to listen to each other and communicate in a constructive manner.

This, in turn, can help resolve conflicts and prevent misunderstandings.

However, building mutual respect in a relationship requires effort and commitment from both partners.

It involves actively listening to each other, being willing to compromise, and avoiding belittling or insulting language. Couples can also benefit from practising gratitude and expressing appreciation for each other’s efforts and positive qualities.

Ultimately, mutual respect is a critical component of a strong and healthy relationship.

Couples who value and prioritize mutual respect are more likely to have a successful, fulfilling, and long-lasting relationship.

Conclusion

The one big idea we can take away from all of this is that couples in strong relationships seem to share several essential characteristics that contribute to their success.

Trust, respect, emotional support, intimacy, shared values and beliefs, effective communication, shared goals and aspirations, a sense of humour, willingness to work through challenges, and the ability to maintain individual identities while nurturing their relationship are examples of these qualities.

And while every couple is different, these characteristics can guide couples looking to strengthen their relationship and lay a solid foundation for a happy and healthy future together.

By focusing on these essential qualities, couples can create a deep and meaningful connection that will stand the test of time.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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