THE INC. LIFE

This 50-Year Study Revealed the 4 Secrets To Making a Relationship Last

Is this really possible in the modern age? Perhaps.

Share on
BY Chris Matyszczyk - 10 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

It's a disposable world, as Depeche Mode should have sung, but didn't.

We're encouraged to keep changing, disrupting and, that most painful of euphemisms, growing.

Yet we watch movies that make us tear up when one true love conquers all.

Which it sometimes does. For a year or two.

Still, Brian Ogolsky of the elegantly-named University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign thought he'd plow through 50 years of research to see if he could find the keys to a lasting relationship.

You'd think that by now the big brains would have created some sort of formula for relationship success.

Here, then, is small summation of the secrets Ogolsky found within the research. These secrets involve not only keeping your relationship strong, but actually improving it.

May they bring you lasting happiness. Or, at least, temporary respite and even hope.

1. Don't Think You Can Do Better. Idealize The One You're With.

Oh, how many times have I had to listen to tales of people who dumped their lovers because they thought the grass on the other side of the bar was greener. Only to discover that the grass was moss and that their former lover most definitely didn't want them back. Ever. Believe, science says, that your relationship is special. And when you get into a fight, try (though I know it's hard) to indulge your partner with the benefit of the doubt. You never know, they might be a decent human being.

2. Believe That Your Relationship Is Bigger Than The Sum Of Its Parts.

Some people objectify their partners. They think they're with them because they fulfill some specific need. Perhaps they're more gorgeous than you are. Perhaps they're wealthier, smarter or merely better dressed. But if you actually believe that the entity you've created is bigger than its individual components, you can behave in a way that contributes to it, rather than merely sucks off of its teat.

3. Don't Let Conflicts Fester.

Every relationship has its disagreements. In the good relationships, however, when heads butt it's talked about and resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. At least, you hope. Once you talk about your opposing views, make sure you support your partner. They might be going through some private, twisted hell. This fight might be all about something that isn't the apparent contents of the fight at all.

4. Talk and Laugh.

This is the most important and, I think, the hardest to achieve. Ogolsky says that in relationships where humor is unveiled at the time of the greatest stress, there is enormous potential for survival and even growth. All too often, though, the problem is that the communication has been a little fake from the beginning. And it's precisely in moments of great stress that the truth of this emerges. Silence and anger can suddenly take over. Humor, if it surfaces at all, becomes bitter.

If there's one thing that humans are depressingly good at, it's creating a version of themselves that isn't real and doing the same with their partners. They talk themselves into believing that they can make a relationship "work," because they need one or two specific things from their partners and the rest they'll deal with later. They persuade themselves that their partner is one way when, deep inside, they know this isn't true. And in falsity lie the seeds of tears and long letters from copper-hearted divorce lawyers.