Over my years of being a relationship coach, I’ve noticed that there’s somewhat of a pattern between relationships that work and relationships that don’t. I refer to these as “workability” factors.
Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two couples are the same either. In my work, my objective is to help people understand their authentic selves and true desires, and to see if they’re able to meet those deep-rooted authentic needs.
So, just how can you tell whether or not your relationship will stand the test of time? I’m going to break things down by using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Couples who are functioning at the lowest level – survival – frequently stay together out of necessity.
Couples functioning at the highest level – self-actualization – are making each other happy as well as helping one another grow in the right direction. This tends to result in them staying together as well.
The main problems arise in between these two levels; namely, through issues with safety, love, and esteem.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
> “Am I truly staying to pursue love, or just to avoid pain?”
This is a massive telltale sign as to whether or not a relationship will work — what’s the thing that’s holding you together?
Those who stay in a relationship because they’re afraid of being alone or going through the humiliation of getting divorced tend to be in less sustainable relationships.
On the other hand, those who stick together through hard times because they have a mutual goal of building a happy relationship together have a much better chance at making it!
> “Do we have enough “workability” factors?”
The overall health of a relationship can be broken down into “workability factors” — in other words, elements that need to be present in order to effectively resolve conflict and move forward together.
Here’s an example. Every relationship has certain emotional needs that need to be fulfilled. In order to make a relationship work, you need some of the following workability factors: mutual love, shared interests, commitment on both sides, honesty, and fidelity. It also means that the presence of any Love Torpedoes can render a relationship more unlikely to survive; for example, absence of mutual love, infidelity, zero shared interests, or one or both of the partners are uncommitted to the marriage.
The important thing to remember about workability factors – or the fulfillment of emotional needs – is that it’s an active thing! If both partners are willing to work on the foundation of their mutual love, passion, fidelity, and create shared interests etc. — there’s a higher chance of making things work.
> “Can I speak my authentic truth?”
Though this might sound counterintuitive at first, couples who are more confrontational are generally healthier and happier!
Can you speak your authentic truth, even if it means risking losing your relationship? The more you can explicitly let your partner know you’re unhappy, the happier can be.
The more honest you can be about your emotional needs, the more you give your partner a chance to understand and get used to them.
When your main goal is to maintain your relationship because you’re scared of losing it, you’re more likely to stay quiet and subservient — even though you may feel disrespected or neglected.
> “Rather than trying to control the outcome, can I figure out exactly what I want?”
In order for couples and marriage counseling to be really effective, you first need to focus on what your authentic truth is, as well as what emotional needs need to be met for you to feel truly fulfilled.
Rather than trying to manipulate yourself or a situation in the hopes of getting a certain “comfortable” outcome, can you instead begin to consider what your authentic truth is? From there, perhaps you can find a way to start being more transparent and vocal about it so your needs can be met!
The lesson to be learned here is double-sided. Firstly, there is not one “right” direction that your relationship can go in. Whatever will be healthiest and happiest for both partners involved will be the best thing to do. Secondly, everybody goes through tough times! It’s not necessarily conflict or hardship that determines the workability of a relationship — it’s the commitment and willingness to grow.