10 Things All Couples in Healthy Relationships Do Every Day

Ultimately, the power to transform your marriage is in your hands.

All relationships are unique but all require one thing: hard work.

There is a lot of relationship advice out there, from articles to videos. But, after 20+ years as a marriage advisor working with executives and their families, I found that work success can also translate into martial and committed relationship success.

Healthy relationships require just as much work and effort in order to be successful. In marriage, especially, the hard work doesn’t stop at the wedding. It continues on until “death do us part”.

Whether you’re in a relationship or married, it’s important for both partners to do their fair share and lift their weight in order to last a long time.

If you can put as much effort into building your career as learning how to have a healthy relationship, you will achieve the same success.

Here are 10 ways to apply your hard-working ethics to successful and healthy relationships.

1. Take responsibility for the health of your relationship

You and your spouse are responsible for the state of your marriage.

Acknowledge that your beliefs, choices, and behaviors all play a role in your relationship, and strive to make decisions that support your bond.

2. Exhibit the behaviors you hope to see in your spouse

If you want to be with a kind, considerate, and hardworking person, you too need to adopt these attributes.

Lay the foundation for a successful marriage by acting in a way that makes you proud. Show your spouse you love and respect them to nurture your relationship.

3. Give more than you hope to receive

Treat your partner the way you would like to be treated — and then go the extra mile.

Be the example, even if you do not believe your spouse is giving back what you are putting into the marriage. Live without expecting reciprocity.

4. Determine who you are

Clarity about who you are and where you are headed brings feelings of purpose and fulfillment.

By discussing what you want and encouraging your spouse to do the same, you will build a framework to evaluate your desired outcomes.

5. Continue building your relationship skills

Few couples put in the time to actively improve their relationship skills.

It’s important, however, that you work to continually strengthen your bond.

6. Advocate for your marriage or commitment

Society conveys that spouses should consider divorce when things are no longer “fun” or “easy”.

Rather than accepting this outlook, view your marriage as the most important relationship you have. Remember that your union is sacred.

7. Commit to your partner

Marriage is an investment not only in your partner but also in your relationship.

Even when things become difficult, honor your commitment by putting in the work needed to sustain a healthy marriage.

8. Aim for personal growth

The challenges we face help us learn and grow. Couples who stay together through difficult times report that their marriages are happier and stronger.

Aim to improve yourself, and your marriage will improve too.

9. Learn from other successful relationships

Those who have not witnessed other happy marriages or committed relationships often struggle with their own relationships.

Remember that your example will give future generations a framework for their own success.

10. Remember that anything is possible

If you want to enjoy a thriving marriage, you must put in the time to nurture your relationship. This will not occur organically any more than your next raise or promotion. Pinpoint your goals and put in the work to achieve them.

Ultimately, the power to transform your marriage is in your hands. It is the result of the actions you take, for you have considerable power over your thoughts and attitudes.

 

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11 Marriage Truths From Divorce Attorneys

The best source for marriage advice? Divorce attorneys. Before you protest, just think about it: Every day at work they see the types of marital problems that lead otherwise happy couples to split up.

With that in mind, we recently asked 11 family law attorneys to volunteer their best love and relationship advice. See what they had to say below.

1. A sustainable marriage is not about love, it’s about tolerance.

“Can you tolerate all your partner’s quirks? Even the ones that you don’t like, are they tolerable? Don’t marry your partner thinking that any of his or her quirks are going to change, improve or wane. As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future. Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long lasting marriage.” — Melissa B. Buchman, an attorney in Beverly Hills, California 

2. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. 

“Unfortunately, many couples I see going through a divorce ascribe bad — or sometimes terrible — motives to everything their spouses do. What is the harm in assuming or presuming the best? Even if you’re wrong, it hurts no one. And it may be the start of a better relationship.”  — Randall M. Kessler, an attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia

3. Don’t be afraid to feed your spouse’s ego now and then.

“Silly as it may sound, your spouse wants to feel strong, sexy and attractive. I have seen spouses cheat because someone else showed them attention and made them feel good.” — Christian Denmon, an attorney in Florida 

4. Put your spouse before your kids. 

“This may not be the most popular piece of advice, especially for parents, but after watching countless people get divorced because they allowed themselves to slowly drift apart over the years, I honestly believe it’s true. We are all busy these days. It’s far too easy to put your job, your house, your activities and your kids before your spouse. Don’t do it! While many people believe that their kids have to come first, if they don’t put their spouse first and their marriage eventually sours, it’s not going to be doing the kids any favors. If you value your marriage, choose to put it first.” — Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, Illinois 

5. Don’t wait until it’s too late to work on your marriage.

“Work on your marriage while it’s still a good marriage, don’t wait until there’s a problem. ‘Work’ does not have to mean counseling, it can simply be having a set date night once a month.” — Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

6. When you need to discuss something important, timing is everything.

“When making a request, decision, criticism or apology, it’s crucial to do it when and where your spouse is at their best: after working out, perhaps, or on Friday night, or after a glass of wine or early in the morning before the kids are up. Ask yourself: Is this really the most constructive setting for my partner to hear what I need to bring up? I marvel at stories from clients about how they tried accomplishing something regardless of their spouse’s readiness to receive it and how shocked and dismayed they were when they got rebuffed or ignored. Bringing stuff up on a Sunday night, for instance, when you know he or she gets the back-to-work blues — or right after work, when you’re both exhausted? Bad idea.”  — James Sexton, an attorney based in New York City

7. Know that you can’t change your partner.

“My piece of advice mirrors a quote from Maya Angelou: ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ In other words, many of us have this deep-seated desire to change our partners, especially women. This can manifest itself in actions like trying to get them to wear neutral colors instead of bold plaid shirts or attempting to change them from boring in bed to hot in the sheets. The bottom line is, we are who we are and either we accept it or go back on Match.com.” — Lisa Helfend Meyer, an attorney in Los Angeles, California

8. Love is about the little things.

“Marriage is work but worth the effort. Go on dates, speak one another’s love language and cherish the little things. Remember that love looks and feels very different as your relationship changes and evolves.” — Natalie Gregg, an attorney in Allen, Texas  

 

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The Most Common Reasons for Divorce, According to Marriage Counselors

And nope, it’s not the pandemic.

Falling in love is a thing of elation, and then there’s the wedding day. Two partners star in their own rom-com, vows are spoken, the audience claps, and the newlyweds ride off into the sunset together, with decades of marital bliss on the horizon. Their love will surely stand the test of time…or will it? In fact, what if there comes a day when the marriage simply becomes loveless?

In the honeymoon phase, the prospect of divorce may feel light years away. But the reality of making a marriage work is not as simple as a stroll down the aisle. While all relationships experience trials, and even the healthiest couples fluctuate in terms of mutual happiness, unfortunately, some differences prove to be irreconcilable—even toxic.

We linked up with some experts who enlightened us to the most common reasons couples seek divorce, as well as topics that show up in marital counseling sessions and in the courtroom. So if thoughts of divorce are blinking on your radar, ahead is a wealth of information to help you validate whether or not your “happily ever after” has become “better off apart.”

So what are the most common reasons marriages fall apart?

Divorce attorney, Kelly Frawley, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, claims to have heard it all—from, “I can’t stand his family” to protests over a partner’s changing body. The two most common reasons echoing throughout her practice, however? Money battles and relational boredom. “Couples may disagree about spending habits as well as the bigger financial picture in terms of savings and retirement goals,” she says.

And then there is the boredom piece—when the sense of adventure and passion has lost its pulse. Frawley says this often happens when couples lose their ability to relate day to day. “People may find they do not share the same interests as they once did, or they’re not excited about being intimate with their spouse.”

Frawley’s observations are well-aligned with a recent divorce study, where roughly 40 percent of its participants cited financial issues and “getting married too young” as having been major players in their marriage’s demise. Infidelity and conflict were mentioned even more–with almost 60 percent of the participating divorcees admitting that extramarital affairs and excessive arguing were among their final straws. But the most shouted complaint of all? A lack of commitment—coming in at a whopping 75 percent.

There’s no one year of marriage that you’re most vulnerable to divorce.

Dr. Lori Whatley, clinical psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Connected & Engaged says that there does seem to a popular time to get divorced, regardless of whether you’ve been together for two years or twenty: intense periods of adjustment.

“The first year is extremely hard and often comes with surprises, because it’s a merging of beliefs, separate family traditions and financial habits, in order to create a new family unit,” she says.

And for couples who decide to toss a child into the mix, the surprises don’t end there. “When children are introduced, it can be an absolute shock for a lot of couples,” says Dr. Whatley. Say, for example, when partners trade in their sexy, wine-drenched date nights and spontaneous weekend getaways for a sleep-deprived blur of feeding, burping and changing diapers. Or, there could be issues with an interfering in-law whose heightened presence as a grandparent negatively bleeds over into the way one views their spouse.

Regardless, Dr. Whatley has observed that if a couple is already struggling to harmonize their personalities and goals, the newfound responsibility of a child may put further strain on the marriage.

Finally, empty nesters are often struck with yet another challenging stretch. After years spent hauling kids to music lessons and sporting practices, many couples suddenly find themselves seated alone at a quiet dinner table—sometimes unable to organically lock eyes. “Some partners aren’t sure they can connect with each other privately anymore,” she says. “They may have neglected their intimacy for years, and then there is nothing left to salvage.”

Emily Pollock, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, says that, while her firm represents individuals in all stages of marriage—she has noticed that the majority of cases “are closer to the middle of the spectrum—between 7 and 14 years.”

Unmet expectations is another top cause of divorce.

Sometimes spouses discover that they clash. From personality conflicts to glaring political differences, perhaps there has been no single eruptive event and there is no one person to blame. They just want to be shown the exit door.

Dr. Whatley explains that the first year or two of a romance is fueled by a cocktail of chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin—creating an intoxicating haze of blind distraction. But then the intoxication runs out, and any red flags that were once ignored have taken center stage. “When the body physiologically calms down, and you’re no longer crazy in love, you’re doing real life together. And you may realize that you and your spouse are fundamentally different people,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that, based upon her observation, the most common reason for irreconcilable differences is unmet expectations. “People often create all of these expectations that their spouse will eventually adjust certain behaviors or habits to better suit their own. But you can never change another person; you can only change yourself.”

Of course, infidelity is another leading reason.

However, Dr. Whatley says it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. “Infidelity is almost always a symptom of another problem. While some marriages never heal from it, I have seen many couples create even better marriages after working through the issues surrounding it,” she says.

Denna Babul, relationship expert and author of the upcoming book Love Strong: Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life and Take Your Power Back agrees. “If a marriage has a solid foundation that, over time, becomes compromised in some way, infidelity can happen in marriages that are ultimately worth saving–so long as the person who cheated is genuinely remorseful and committed to rebuilding the relationship’s trust,” she says.

But there’s a catch. In order to come back from infidelity, the person who was betrayed must still be able to see their spouse in a recognizably loving light. “If the person is so hurt that they are no longer able to see their spouse as the one they fell in love with, that may ultimately destroy the marriage,” says Babul.

In a 2019 survey, “lack of intimacy” was cited as one of the most prevalent factors.

In a 2019 study published by Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, the most common reason for divorce was found to be a lack of love and intimacy. Dr. Shannon Chavez, Los Angeles-based psychologist and sex therapist, says that sexless marriages are shockingly common, and that the majority of her divorced clients report having experienced its pain. “In sexless marriages, a person can go a long time without feeling desired and loved, and their self-esteem can take serious hits because of it,” she says.

So, in such a case, it’s understandable why a person might wish to leave a marriage that’s left them untouched for months or years. But Dr. Chavez urges her clients to consider that, while eroticism fades over time, a seemingly flat-lined sex life doesn’t necessarily mean that divorce papers should be filed. “If there is still a connection there, couples can work to check in with each other’s desires and find new ways to excite and indulge in each other. Unless there are other serious issues within the marriage, in the majority of cases, it’s definitely possible to revive the intimacy and sexual connection,” she says.

What if your spouse is emotionally or physically abusive?

In a recent study, nearly a quarter of divorcees cited domestic violence as a major contributor to the expiration of their marriage. Katie Hood, TED Speaker and CEO of One Love Foundation says that the evolution of an abusive marriage is quite sneaky—often disguised in the early days as healthy love. “It usually starts with the abusive spouse dominating all of your time and energy, then slowly isolating you from friends and family. Before long, you may have little to no support system outside of the marriage,” she says.

Other classic signs of abuse are control (i.e. your spouse micromanages your social media presence or freaks when you attempt to forge an identity outside of the marriage), a cycle of blaming, gaslighting and punishment, and high volatility. “The abused may feel like they are walking on eggshells—constantly framing their decisions in an effort to avoid a negative reaction from their spouse,” she says. Worst of all? The cycle of abusive behavior is so psychologically complex that it conditions the abused to lose faith in themselves. “The whole process of abuse breaks down a person’s conviction. If the abuser is constantly saying, ‘This isn’t my fault; it’s your fault,’ the abused loses confidence in their own judgment,” says Hood.

So if one has reached their capacity for tolerating abuse, and is mulling over plans to divorce, Hood emphasizes the necessity of putting safety protocols in place. “Abusive relationships are all about control. Filing for divorce is the ultimate break in that control, so this is why gathering a support system with safety planning is essential before leaving an abusive marriage,” she says.

But not all divorces are a result of “serious” issues.

Perhaps it’s not that there is anything horribly wrong in the marriage; there just isn’t enough left that feels right.

For example, let’s say your spouse married a junk food addict, and the two of you bonded over a mutual fondness for nachos and cookie dough ice cream, but, over time, your curiosity about fitness and clean eating accelerated into a passion, and you evolved into a wellness enthusiast. Or, perhaps you were agnostic when you married, but have since become aligned with a spiritual belief system that your spouse deems as woo-woo. Over time, you may feel like the two of you exist in separate universes.

Dr. Whatley says it’s not typically the changes that create the problems, but a spouse’s resistance to those changes that cause the breakdown of a marriage. “Is your spouse willing to let you grow and live in a way that is meaningful to you? Are they willing to learn about and support the activities you deeply love? If that doesn’t happen, it can cause a person to feel like they’ve outgrown a marriage, sometimes leading to divorce,” she says.

And the same goes for ones that happen in couples that have been together for decades.

While it’s often puzzling when couples, after many successful years together—perhaps spent building a life filled with gorgeous family photographs–decide to start over separately, Dr. Whatley says it’s not so mysterious. She explains it can be attributed to the small, daily ripples of change that eventually lead to monumental differences over time. “The period after 30 or 35 years of marriage can be strikingly tough. “People evolve and change slowly and steadily over the years, and sometimes they wake up and realize that they didn’t evolve and change as a couple,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that when women start to cross out of middle-age and approach their golden years, it’s not uncommon for them to reconsider a myriad of things about their life. “In recent years, there has been strong evidence of women in their late 50s and early 60s seeking divorce more and more. I’ve seen it in a few studies as well as in my practice,” she says. “I think it’s a time when one evaluates their worth, as well as how they want to make the most of the rest of their days.”

For a marriage to thrive, there has to be mutual respect, but not necessarily constant happiness.

Dr. Whatley believes the most essential ingredient in a healthy marriage is mutuality. “You need mutual respect and a mutual emotional connection.” She adds, “Reasonable behavior in a marriage does not have to do with acting or feeling happy all of the time. Happiness in a relationship is not a constant state; it wouldn’t be special if it was. It’s about the two parties who sometimes disagree and mess up, but always bounce back—because they each want to bounce back.”

Hood says we have to fight the narrative that there exists a marriage on high where two partners are perfectly in sync and fair with each other all of the time. The key is to be able to safely communicate when you aren’t in sync, and when you feel you’ve been wronged. That differentiates a worthwhile marriage from a toxic one. “When you feel disappointed, hurt or trapped, in any way, can you have that conversation and still be heard fairly?”

How is the coronavirus impacting marriages?

Dr. Whatley says that 2020 is an interesting year for marriages, and predicts there will be droves of relational paradigm shifts on the other side of the pandemic. “I have some clients who are quarantined with their spouse in small places. If they were on the fence about their marriage, this has brought immense clarity—some have grown closer, while many have realized that it’s simply not working,” she says.

Pollock says that the shelter-in-place orders are provoking individuals to take a microscope to their relationships. When the freedom to venture out of the house for a cocktail, or to a friend’s place to blow off steam is stripped away, having nowhere to run sort of serves as a magnifier—of both the good and the bad. “We have gotten calls from people who have been prompted to seek divorce counsel as a result of examining their relationships. We are encouraging people not to make any final decisions based on these very unusual circumstances during which everyone is under significant stress,” she says.

So while some individuals may be inspired to view their relationships in a light of heightened gratitude, Pollock says others “may have entered the crisis viewing their marriage as not great but ‘good enough,’ but will leave it with a new perspective that life is too short to settle for ‘good enough.’”

At the end of the day, divorce happens because a marriage has lost its glue.

Regardless of the reasons that provoke thoughts of divorce, how does one know when it’s really over? Dr. Whatley says it’s when the marriage has lost its glue. “You know that special thing you bond over, that has always held you together—in conflict, in tragedy, or after a huge mistake? Couples can come back from so many awful things, but only when the glue is still there. If it’s lost, if it starts to feel indifferent, that’s when the marriage falls apart.” She adds, “…and that is when it is nearly impossible to be put back together.”

 

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The 28 Most Important Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

It’s a wonderful feeling to be in a deeply committed relationship, whether that means you’re married, engaged (congrats!) or simply in a solid forever partnership. But with deep dedication comes a great responsibility to make sure you’ve talked about the most important questions to ask before marriage—even when it’s tough.

After all, “learning how to ask hard questions is not something that ends after you get married,” says Michelle Joy, MFT, co-owner and co-instructor (along with her husband) of Marriage Prep 101, a workshop designed for engaged, newlywed and seriously dating couples. “Asking your partner difficult questions even when you disagree or are afraid of their answer is important to keep emotional intimacy alive. Being comfortable with this before the ‘I dos’ sets the trajectory for continuing this open communication in your marriage.”

As for what you should be asking? Let’s start with these questions.

Where do you stand on kids?

“Many partners have values or assumptions that point to one partner staying home with the children, however, more and more I am seeing that both partners really desire to stay connected with their careers—even if it’s just part-time—after children are born,” says Joy. “Having that expectation discussed beforehand is important.”

1. Are we having kids? If so, how many?

2. How soon after marrying do you want to start a family?

3. What is our plan if we have trouble conceiving?

4. After we have children, do you plan to work?

What should I know about your upbringing?

“For example, if there was a lot of yelling,” says Joy,“then either the partner believes that yelling is normal and thinks nothing of it when they yell, or on the contrary, yelling may scare them. Asking about your partner’s parents can give you an enormous amount of information about their sensitivities and perspectives about communication and conflict resolution.”

5. Did your parents ever disagree in front of you?

6. How did your parents resolve conflicts?

7. How did your parents show love?

8. Were your folks emotionally available to you?

9. How did your parents deal with anger?

How will we approach money?

According to Rachel DeAlto, Match’s chief dating expert and relationship coach, this is a tricky conversation that can definitely bring up feelings of insecurity and awkwardness. But it’s hugely necessary in terms of mapping out your life and deciding how to intermingle your dollars (and debt). “The important thing is to be transparent, because not disclosing financial issues could cause a huge problem down the road,” DeAlto says. “People talk about everything but money.”

10. Do you have any debt or any savings?

11. What’s your credit score?

12. Are we going to buy a house at some point?

13. Should we discuss purchases over a certain amount before buying?

14. Will we have joint accounts?

15. What’s our plan if one of us loses their job?

16. What are our savings goals and what will they go toward?

17. How will we split expenses?

And how about religion?

“In an ideal situation, it’s OK for each partner to have different beliefs but neither is expected to conform to a religion that’s not theirs,” DeAlto says. “If they support your faith from afar, and if you’re OK with attending services on your own, it’s perfectly normal to not expect them to physically show up for you.”

18. How would you describe your beliefs?

19. Do you expect me to join you in group religious services?

20. Do you envision our whole family attending every week or on holidays?

21. Are there any rituals you’d like to adhere to at home?

22. Will our kids be raised religiously?

23. Will we have a religious marriage ceremony?

How do you show and accept love?

“We always want to be sure that emotional resources are not only being given to our partner, but that we are receiving them as well,” says Joy. “For instance, are you able to receive affection but it feels awkward for you to give it back? It’s possible that your partner’s definition of affection differs from yours. Ask them what affection, dedication or commitment means to them and how they plan on demonstrating those qualities in your marriage.”

24. How much affection do you need from me to be happy?

25. Do you expect us to always be monogamous?

26. What does showing love mean to you?

27. Are you willing to see a marriage counselor with me?

28. What do you need to feel appreciated?

If you’re met with resistance when broaching any of these points, remind your partner that you’re in your relationship for the long haul and talking things out will only make you closer.

“If someone doesn’t want to have these conversations, I kind of want to shake them—gently—and remind them that this is a huge step and talking is intended to benefit both of you,” says DeAlto. After all, “When you have mortgages, job issues and kids, all of these things make life more complicated.” In other words, do it now.

 

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20 Signs You’re With the Woman You Should Marry

If she buys you French fries even when you say you’re not hungry, she’s a keeper.

m going to assume that if you’ve somehow landed on this article, you’re at the stage of your relationship where you’re considering marriage. Cute! Maybe you’ve been together a year or so, maybe you’ve gotten some pressure from your Aunt Lisa who loves getting into your business over Thanksgiving.

Whatever the reason, I’m sure your girlfriend has some redeeming qualities that, at the very least, made you consider marriage with her in the first place. Whether she laughs when you snort, gets you extra French fries when you say you’re not hungry, or texts back right away without leaving you on read, these are all good things that make for total wife-y material.

But if you’re looking for some sort of formula or equation that’ll make it easy for you to determine if this person is, like, your person, you should sign up for an algebra class (…and not be reading this Cosmopolitan article).

That’s because, truly, all clichés aside, you’re the only one who can determine if the woman you’re with is who you should marry. So while, yes, there are some signs this woman could be your person—whether as a wife, or serious life-long partner—it’s truly dependent on how she makes you feel. Check out the list below and see if any of it resonates with you.

1. She makes your bed in the morning. I know this sounds weird, but it’s totally a thing. Sometimes life really is about the little things, so if she takes the time to make up your bed in the morning after you’ve slept in it, just imagine all the other little things she probably does that you don’t even notice.

2. She buys you Corgi socks just because she knows corgis are your favorite. So this one is a lil specific, but you get the idea. If she thinks about you enough to notice there are some socks on sale with your favorite dog on them, it goes without saying but she’s obviously a keeper.

3. She cares how your friends are doing. She knows all your friends by name and is genuinely invested in whether or not your roommate Kate gets together with that guy she likes because they would be so cute together and she wants her to be happy.

4. You can go on trips together and not fight constantly. If you can survive being in a nightmare spa resort full of screaming children, no clean towels, and weak drinks with old pineapple on the rim without fighting constantly, you have something pretty amazing.

5. You still catch her checking you out. For no reason, really. She just thinks you are the hottest human always and is happy to let you know.

6. You share the same values. You both want the same type of relationship, you know where you both stand on having children, and your goals for the future are the same. If you want to work until you’re 90, so does she. If you want to retire early and eat only pudding for the rest of your life, she’s cool with that.

7. She loves bragging about you. To her friends, coworkers, everyone. Because she’s proud of you and thinks you are the coolest person she’s ever met. Her friends, and roommates, and coworkers know every little thing about you before you even meet them. You’re basically like a band she’s obsessed with that she also gets to date.

8. You hear your friends complain about their significant others and you can’t really relate. Just keep it to yourself that you and your girlfriend have fun staring at blank walls and she’s incredibly supportive and thoughtful and compassionate. Not the time to share that info.

9. She’s your biggest supporter. She believes you can do things even you’re not sure you can do because she has the utmost faith and confidence in you even at your lowest moments because she believes you are magic.

10. You feel comfortable planning things way, way in the future. You can buy concert tickets or book a vacation in advance without worrying if she’s going to break up with you or you’re going to break up with her before then. You trust her completely and she’s become such a part of you that your future together seems as certain as anything.

11. She makes sacrifices for you and you do the same for her. And she thinks nothing of it because she genuinely enjoys making sure you’re happy and you feel the same way about her.

12. She doesn’t try to change you. She knows every messed up, weirdo thing you do when you sleep and when you’re awake and when you’re tired and when you’re cranky, and she’s okay with all of it in a way that you weren’t sure anyone ever would be.

13. Your friends are really, genuinely happy for you. After suffering through countless drink dates and morning-after breakfasts with your horrible exes, your friends are so relieved you’re actually with someone who is as cool as you are because you’re truly right for each other, which is something they’d wanted for you for a long time now. It’s like seeing your really tall friend find workable pants, but instead of pants, it’s a person.

14. You can be completely honest with her about anything. No matter how anxious or worried or nervous or scared you’re feeling, you know you can tell her anything at all and she won’t judge you. Sexual fantasies, awkward illnesses, a fight you had with your parents; anything.

15. She’s the first person you want to talk to when something cool/funny/weird happens. You used to text your best friend all of this stuff, but your best friend isn’t even mad about that because they’re so happy you’ve found someone you’re so close and connected with.

16. She indulges your guilty pleasures. She knows you love sitting in track pants and eating an entire Funfetti cake, and not only totally accepts that, but sometimes she brings one home and lets you tear that shit up.

17. You want to protect her. Even though she totally doesn’t need protecting. It’s just an impulse because you love her so goddamn much.

18. She fights fairly. She doesn’t get excessively angry or mean-spirited, and she doesn’t bring up old issues or low blows just to hurt you. She might be mad, but she wants to work it out with you, so you talk about it like adults who love each other.

19. She has her own life outside of your relationship. She knows you two are going to function best when she does her own thing and you do your own thing, and then you both come together and forget about the rest of the world existing.

20. You tell her you miss her when she’s gone, and you really mean it. Like, you say you wish she were there because you actually wish she was there. All the time. Maybe in, like, a live-in situation. A live-in situation with wedding rings. And all of our friends there. And then someone gives you fancy kitchenware. Maybe like that.

 

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