What is it that makes a great relationship? A spark? Great sex? Nope. The key to lifelong love and happiness together is actually more practical than physical.
Here, relationship expert Katia Loisel shares the six essential ingredients for a life of love in a secure relationship.
1. You share common interests and values
And no, sharing a glass of red wine nightly does not count as a common interest or value! Your interests could be anything from enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle to loving the theatre or socialising with friends regularly. If your common interests are a tad thin, you can always create some mutual ones together! Sign up for dancing lessons or try canoeing to see what makes you both tick!
But it’s your values around life’s big issues that can be the real deal makers or breakers – and these are a little harder to identify sometimes. They’re important, though! “Research shows that sharing values and interests not only increases attraction, but also relationship satisfaction and the odds you’ll stay together,” explains Katia. “It also makes us feel understood and strengthens friendship and feelings of trust and connection. That’s why it’s so important that you’re honest about who you are and your values around life, love and money.”
2. You communicate honestly and respectfully
It can be hard discussing money or your relationship expectations, but it’s essential to learn how to face those icky subjects. “A healthy relationship thrives on communication, honesty, understanding, trust and of course a healthy dose of compromise,” explains Katia. “Communication and understanding is key, and that also means speaking honestly about money at every stage of your relationship. Money is one of the most important influences on relationships and yet many couples still skirt around or completely avoid the topic of money.”
“When your partner allows you to express your feelings and expectations honestly and openly, acknowledges and validates your thoughts and opinions and listens without interrupting or without blame, it creates a safe platform for you to express yourself and grow.”
3. You solve conflict as a team
Sometimes winning the argument can mean losing the race. So if you’re serious about making the relationship work and nurturing your love and support for one another, you’ll need to refresh your approach to conflicts. “Arguments shouldn’t be about winning or losing,” says Katia. “Winning should be about finding a solution where you both feel good and happy. Couples who focus on solving conflict as a team and finding an outcome that works for both parties, acknowledging that differences are normal and a part of learning.”
4. You take care of the financial admin and plan for the future
‘Hey honey, let’s have a romantic dinner and afterwards, I’ll whisper sweet nothings then talk dirty about finances and admin,’ said no woman ever. But you’ll need to add it to the ‘talk list’ at some stage. “While life admin may not seem particularly sexy, taking care of financial matters as a couple sets clear goals and helps clarify financial values, future dreams and aspirations,” explains Katia. “I’m currently working alongside ANZ on their Love Insurance campaign, to get the conversation started. Money issues are a major source of stress for couples, but working together to keep admin, finances and life insurance in-check can significantly improve the health of your relationship.”
And the positive numbers don’t lie. “A study published in Marriage & Family Review found shared financial goals and values and financial role satisfaction had a significant impact on relationship satisfaction,” says Katia. “In fact, the study found that sharing financial goals and values was even more important than the communication strategies couples used during conflict.”
The ‘future’ might seem eons away, but it should be on your agenda earlier rather than later. “It might seem a while away, but ensure you talk about your future, financial goals, retirement plans and investments together,” advises Katia. “Ensuring things like life insurance is in place may not seem like the most romantic topic of conversation, but looking out for your partner’s long term needs and financial security reduces stress and shows that you’ll love and care for them even after you’re gone.”
Related: What His Kiss Is Really Saying
5. You help them become a better person (& vice versa)
Do you focus on each other’s strengths – or weaknesses? Do you encourage your partner when they start to doubt themselves? Help them find solutions to obstacles and follow their dreams? Or are you more like ‘Negative Nelly and Miserable Mike’ feeding off each other’s pessimism?
“No one can make you a better person, but successful relationships provide a positive environment based on unconditional love, friendship, understanding, support, belief, learning and honest, challenging communication that inspires and motivates you to be the best that you can be,” says Katia.
6. You choose to invest in one another
When was the last time you made a deposit to the love bank? Have you told your partner you love him lately (unprompted!), or done something nice for him, or as a couple?
“Nurturing your relationship isn’t about celebrating one day a year,” warns Katia. “It’s about choosing your partner day after day, year after year. Choosing them and making the daily choice to invest in them and the relationship.”
ABOUT: Katia Loisel is working alongside ANZ on their Love Insurance campaign during the month of April. Love Insurance helps put into perspective that we all want to look after our loved ones and life insurance is a way of showing you’ll be there for your loved ones.