Undoubtedly life seems to test the resolve for all but the most fortunate of couples, but are there any questions those considering the viability of their relationship can ask themselves before committing to the long haul?  A recent study led by the University of Exeter suggests that there might be.  Academics working together with couples, family lawyers, mediators and judges have identified 10 key considerations to help couples appraise whether their relationship will thrive and flourish over time.

Following research led by Professor Anne Barlow, and backed by the prominent divorce lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton, the study found that there are some key attributes and skills evident in long term relationships. Such as, choosing the partner carefully, having an underlying friendship, being realistic about life and each other, seeing the best in each other, working hard at the relationship, remaining committed and communicative and ensuring a strong support network was in place.

The study went on to suggest that couples consider the following questions when evaluating their relationship:-

  • Are my partner and I a 'good fit'?
  • Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
  • Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
  • Are our expectations realistic?
  • Do we generally see the best in each other?
  • Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
  • Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
  • Are we both committed to working through hard times?
  • When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
  • Do we each have supportive others around us?

But what about those issues that tend to lead toward relationship breakdown?  The lawyers and judges consulted for the study all agreed that the four most common red-flags were incompatibility, unrealistic expectations both of each other and the relationship, failure to deal with issues in the relationship and finally, a failure to consistently nurture the relationship.

Of course, every relationship is different and no-one is better placed to understand how to make their particular relationship work than those involved in it.  But time and again the research suggested qualities such as mutual respect, realistic expectations, friendship, shared interests and sense of humour are particularly important.

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