Recent findings show that a lucky 10%-to-15% of couples who have been together for more than five years report being in the relationship they’ve always wanted (and probably started planning the wedding for at age six).

Researchers did some investigating into these loved up couples and found twelve distinct features about their relationships that each pair had in common. If you and your partner tick these twelve boxes, then chances are you’re in the relationship of your dreams. Alternatively, if you’re still looking for the one – many of us are - or are simply looking to get the most out of your relationship, here are twelve factors to work towards:

  • The same priority is shared – the two of you believe it’s super important that to do things like leave your work at the office, put your phones away in bed, or turn the TV off during dinner, simply so you can spend quality time with each other regularly.
  • The time is made – instead of just talking the talk, you and your partner walk the walk. Periods of time are blocked out in your calendars in order to simply be together and give your relationship the attention it needs. This often includes taking the time to actively take in what your partner is saying, and using this opportunity to clarify any concerns either has in order to avoid any instances of miscommunication down the track.
  • Arguments are easy to recover from – all couples bicker, but it’s the healthy ones who recover best from squabbles. You both not only put in the effort to practice recovery methods but are also able to put arguing aside to focus on more important issues that arise and then resume fair and well-intentioned discussions later.
  • There’s a level of affection – your relationship includes strong elements of affection and tenderness which are displayed through different forms of intimate touching, like holding hands while walking, snuggling up on the couch, big hugs, and of course the odd (or not so odd) smooch. This affection is especially important to maintain as research published in the Psychological Science journal suggests that it increases the overall happiness in a relationship, and makes partners feel more loved and understood.
  • The romance is alive – you’re on track to achieving your happily ever after because each partner knows the importance of intimacy and romance. You show affection and tenderness through touching, retain elements of surprise in your relationship with small tokens of your affection, and make sure to compliment each other regularly.
  • It’s still exciting – excitement and anticipation is maintained in relationships by interspersing everyday life with short getaways and special dates, so you always look forward to seeing each other and spending time together.
  • Being together is fun – both of you maintain an element of playfulness in your relationship, not only to make each other laugh, but also to help each other through rough patches that might be bringing you down.
  • Communication is open & valued – you’re onto a winner if you feel comfortable enough to be completely open and honest with your other half, and if talking freely about the things that are most attractive about them comes easily.
  • The important stuff is shared – each person is aware of the other’s greatest fears and wildest dream, and the two of you feel a lot closer as a result.
  • Being a partner & being a parent can be juggled – you’re both dedicated parents, but are also aware of the impacts that having children can have on a relationship, so you make the time for romance and affection to keep your relationship strong.
  • Both partners are equal – you both share equal responsibilities, hold equal weight in decisions and have the same expectations of how you both behave and treat each other.
  • Conflict can be easily resolved – you two know how to avoid causing hurt or pain in arguments by honouring each other’s feelings and allowing them to be shared. The time is taken to listen to what’s being said, understand what’s being felt, respond thoughtfully and come to a mutual agreement or decision in a respectful way. You also know to always end a conflict on a positive note by expressing appreciation to your partner for sharing their feelings with you and for respecting your own.

For a lot of us, reaching a stage where we become one of these healthy couples means overcoming a number of personal fears. These include the fear of pain, disappointment, loss of freedom, judgement and vulnerability. But conquering these fears comes with a lot of wonderful rewards, including acquired faith in ourselves and others, a deeper understanding and awareness of our own emotions, and the comfort of being in a beautiful relationship that makes us feel better and be our best selves.