We all know what it means to get involved in a relationship. It means dates, being ecstatic, pure bliss, and unfortunately, sometimes it also means heartbreak.
Although not every relationship will end in tragedy, the sad news is that not all of your relationships will end up in marriage (if that’s your end goal).
Statistics show that about 50% of marriages end in divorce, which is a sad fact considering marriage is thought to be the final stage of a relationship.
However, this also means that 50% of marriages survive, and many other relationships have their benefits and can be successful with or without marriage.
Depending on your definition of a successful relationship, it’s very possible to have a long-lasting and meaningful relationship with your significant other despite the high rate of divorce.
You can even be one of the lucky 50% whose marriage survives.
What is a successful relationship?
Before you begin to wonder how many people have a successful relationship, it’s important to ask yourself what a successful relationship even is.
This definition, is, of course, different for everyone. No two people will have the same meaning.
If they did, we could all be in relationships with each other and not have any sort of doubts!
Regardless, most people have the same goals for a relationship. These include:
- Learning life lessons from each other
- Depending on each other
- Having fun with the other person
- Traveling the world with the other person
- Starting a life that is financially successful
- Having someone to communicate with on a deeper level
- Starting a family
- Getting married
- Having a lifelong intimacy partner
These are all incredibly healthy goals that, when achieved, can signal a successful relationship.
However, it’s important to know that not everyone’s ideas of a successful relationship are the same. This is completely fine…unless they’re different from your partner.
Factors that impact a successful relationship
We’ve already told you that only 50% of relationships are “successful” in that they don’t end in divorce.
Those that are deemed “unsuccessful” suffer through a divorce and have various factors that lead them to end the partnership rather than work on it.
These reasons might be more obvious than you think.
However, it’s important that you analyze these and break them down in order to examine if these are affecting the success of your current relationship.
A study published in Couple Family Psychology in 2013 did a comprehensive analysis on why marriages end in divorce.
The most common reasons they found that cause divorce included:
- Lack of commitment
- Having an affair
- Too much arguing
- Marrying too young
- Financial struggles
- Substance abuse
- Domestic violence
We can learn a lesson from all of these issues. For instance, with lack of commitment, many couples said they could feel each other drifting apart.
They no longer felt like a priority, or just the opposite: felt as if their spouse was no longer a priority for them.
When we think of a successful relationship, being a priority to your partner and having solid commitment might seem like no-brainers.
But just because the relationship is successful in other aspects doesn’t mean that your commitment to each is what it should be.
If your spouse makes millions of dollars and is constantly traveling for work, for example, your relationship might be picture-perfect and financially successful – especially to outsiders looking in.
But is there really any commitment? Are there fights and arguing, or even affairs, going on because of loneliness?
The more you examine what you truly want out of a relationship and view your relationship through your own eyes rather than the eyes of those around you, the more you will be able to identify potential issues make sure they don’t occur in the long run.
Successful relationships without marriage
We know that 50% of marriages end in divorce, but what if your successful relationship doesn’t involve marriage?
What if you don’t want to marry your significant other, either for religious reasons or because you don’t believe in the institution of marriage?
This is actually quite common, and in fact, recent surveys have shown that the number of unmarried people has risen from 21% to 35%.
Successful relationships don’t have to involve marriage. Instead, many people find that they can get all the benefits of a good relationship without having to go through the struggles of marriage.
They can do this by living together just like a couple but without a big wedding and celebration.
Celebrities such as Oprah embrace these types of cohabitation and long-term relationships without having a legal husband or wife.
Some benefits that you can have from a committed, non-married relationship include:
- No financial ties
- Being in a relationship because you want to be (full commitment, ahem read reasons for divorce!)
- Flexibility when it comes to living styles
- Higher self-esteem
- Not having to follow social roles
- Healthier immune systems
- Someone to be there at the end of a long day
Even still, there are other relationships that are considered successful even when people don’t live together and/or aren’t exclusive with each other.
When both partners can have intimacy with other partners, this is known as having an open relationship.
Open relationships are also common, and it makes you wonder if an accurate definition of a “successful relationship” even exists.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to find the definition of a successful relationship for you – it’s anything that makes you and your partner happy!
Finding the core of a successful relationship
Whether you choose to be married, live together, have an open relationship, or anything in between, there are several ways you can ensure your relationship continues to thrive and be successful.
Communication has been found to be one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship.
Giving praise to your partner, making them feel as if they’re the only person in your life, and sharing your deepest secrets, are all types of communication that can be a form of intimacy all on its own.
It’s a shame, then, that many relationships begin to struggle when one partner stops communicating with their partner, or both partners begin to limit open discussions to daily obligations.
Without communication, you’ll be unable to express your true feelings, share what you think the relationship can improve on, and share what your changing goals are.
To be part of the 50% of successful marriages or to simply keep your relationship alive, it’s important to continue to communicate with your partner.
Give them the best of your attention and ask for the same in return.
Cheating is one of the top reasons why relationships fail.
One of the most common reasons for cheating and infidelity is dissatisfaction with the intimacy in the relationship.
Although there is no excuse for cheating, it’s important to recognize just how important intimacy is and how it can affect the outcome of a successful relationship.
Every couple is different. Some couples might consider a healthy sex life as having sex every day, while others only want to be intimate once a month or even not be intimate at all.
This is known as being asexual, and is another type of relationship style that you might not think of existing (but trust us, it does, and it’s perfectly ok)!
Whatever you consider a healthy amount, be receptive to your partner and listen to their needs.
Do you want your spouse and you to have a mansion by the beach? Perhaps a van that you two can use to travel the world?
Or perhaps a simple suburban home where you can enjoy watching television on weeknights? Every single one of these goals is a perfectly good idea.
However, marriages and relationships begin to fail when both partners start to have different ideas of what a proper relationship should entail.
If you find yourself starting to change your goals in life and your partner’s role in them, talk to them ASAP and don’t hide your emotions.
We are all human, and we are all prone to changing our life goals at a moment’s notice.
This shouldn’t be a negative issue, but it is one that can severely impact your relationship and one you should be sure to address with your partner.
Everyone has fights with their partner and sometimes these fights can extend for days on end.
This can lead to resentment, feelings of despair, and have you feeling as if you are unappreciated or uncared for.
These feelings can be extremely painful, and unfortunately, feeling unappreciated is one of the main reasons that lead someone to cheat or leave their spouse.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your partner feel appreciated every day.
Apologizing after a fight, reminding them of just how important they are to you, and even showing them love through date nights, a card, or a small gift, are all ways you can easily show appreciation to your partner.
Being successful without a relationship
At the end of the day, no one is ever obligated to be in a relationship, and in fact, 40% of millennials (20–30-year-olds) say they don’t want to be part of a relationship if it means being unhappy. These smart individuals would rather be single!
This, in and of itself, might just be the truest form of success and one that you should embody in your relationship.
Success in a relationship is quite simple – if you are unhappy, leave. It doesn’t matter if you have children, have property, or think it might hurt.
It’s always better to be involved in a healthy relationship or be single than be in a toxic relationship due to fear of the unknown.
At the end of the day, although 50% of marriages are considered successful based on the fact that they last, the other 50% are also successful because two people made the decision to leave due to being unhappy!
In this essence, all relationships can be successful, so long as you and your partner remain true to yourselves and your goals.