ACCORDING TO A NEW STUDY, THE LONGEVITY OF YOUR LOVE IS NOT DOWN TO INCREDIBLE SEX OR HOW OFTEN YOU PICK UP HIS DIRTY SOCKS, BUT SIMPLE SCIENCE.
PHOTO JALAG/RUSCH, THOMAS/SEASONS AGENCY
Congratulations! You’ve found the one, he’s the best thing since churros and you’re happy together. We don’t want to burst your love bubble, but nabbing your man is when the trouble really starts.
After some time, you’ll reach that stage when you contemplate nuptials, sharing bank accounts, having children or buying his and hers Porsches (yes, we’re dreaming). But how can you be sure you’re with the right guy? How do you know that you’re not together out of habit or because of family pressure/great sex/fear of being single or something along those lines? With more than one quarter of marriages in Singapore now ending in divorce*, how we wish we had a crystal ball that lets us see what lies ahead!
A new study* published in the Journal of Marriage and Family might just help us predict the future. The study tracked 376 couples’ commitment to long-term relationships as well as why attitude shifts happen, because we all know our feelings towards our other halves can vary wildly. One day you’re like giggly teenagers; the next, the way he breathes annoys you. Head researcher Brian Ogolsky and his team tracked everyday relationship changes and staying power, and identified four couple categories which hold the key to together-forever commitment: Dramatic, Conflict-Ridden, Socially Involved and Partner-Focused.
These couple types prove that whatever stage your relationship is at, it’s important to ask yourself how much you really have in common (hint – it should be a lot). If type one or two represents your current relationship the most, don’t throw in the towel. “Perceived unhealthy relationships don’t have to be doomed if both people are willing to work together, but the first step is identifying where you’re going wrong,” says Jessie Koh, a clinical psychologist from Connected Sense Psychological Practice, Singapore
. A couple’s commitment is based on two things: your bond and your intention to continue your journey. “Every couple needs to believe they’ll keep moving forward when the road gets bumpy, because it will get bumpy,” says Ralitza. “Successful married couples are devoted whatever obstacles arise; it’s never a question of ‘Oh, we’ll see how we go’.” As Brian puts it: “Dramatic commitments illustrate the harsh truth that some partners are incompatible and may be better off separated.” So keep on talking, hugging, and most importantly, spending time together to last the long haul.
TYPE ONE: DRAMATIC
Tumultuous, unstable and passionate, these couples spend the least time together and their dedication to their relationship fluctuates significantly. “Individuals with the highest levels of ambivalence are most likely to be classified as dramatic,” explains Brian. These couples are twice as likely as other pairings to break up. And surprise – the women in this group are the most miserable. “Some people are drawn to ‘roller-coaster’ relationships, but constant fluctuations are not good for either party,” warns Ralitza Peeva, a life coach and counsellor at www.ralitzapeeva.com.
TYPE TWO: CONFLICT-RIDDEN
Argument-prone and fiery, these couples thrive on ups and downs. As psychologist Anoushka Beh at www.abehpsych.com says: “Sex brings couples together, but if you have little in common outside of t he bedroom, you’re going to experience problems.” Interestingly, conflict-based matches are more likely to succeed than dramatic types as they still remain dedicated to one another through hard times. Ralitza suggests it’s easy for a couple like this to get into unhealthy cycles, adding that “conflict and debate can be a part of a good relationship, but if you’re not fighting fairly, nobody will end up winning”.
TYPE THREE: SOCIALLY INVOLVED
Self-confessed “best friends” are happiest amongst family and those they know well, and place huge importance on their networks. They spend a lot of time together, but in groups rather than alone. “Socially involved couples reported higher levels of satisfaction than dramatic and conflict-ridden types and the highest levels of friendship-based love,” says Brian. “They’re best able to progress their relationships without confusion and worry.” Anoushka confirms that stable and satisfying friendship-based love is built on trust, respect and affection.
TYPE FOUR: PARTNER-FOCUSED
True twosomes, these value their partner more than anything and are most likely to last longterm. With loads in common, they make time for fun together and “reported the highest levels of relationship satisfaction, spending quality time wit h one another rather than with their social networks”, says Brian. But this doesn’t mean you should avoid the rest of the world. “ Your relationship needs a solid basis of friendship, but it’s also important to make time for other meaningful connections with friends and family,” urges Anoushka. “Find common ground, whether it’s through food, exercise or travel – the value of your presence for your partner, and sharing experiences, will help form a lasting bond.”
*Study – Brian Ogolsky (2015), Pathways of Commitment to Wed: The Development and Dissolution of Romantic Relationships, Journal of Marriage and Family. Divorce Stats 2014 – Singapore, 28,407 marriages and 7,307 divorces
Forever or Forget
It? Your future’s mapped out with our quiz below.
❶ You’re in an Uber car, about to meet your man for dinner, when your phone flashes: “Sorry babe, with the boys for beers. Be another hour, okay?” You:
A Redirect the car to the bar. Grab his beer. Pour it over his head. Stomp out.
B Message back “You are freaking kidding? Get here in the next 10 minutes.”
C Message back “Fun! I’ll c u there in 15!”.
D Message back “Okay, meet in an hour. Remember that we’re inline skating tomorrow!”.
❷ It’s Saturday night. You:
A Ditch him for the girls but turn up at his place after overdosing on espresso martinis.
B Have one drink before realising you’d rather be ripping his clothes off.
C Head out together with the whole gang for tapas and a movie.
D Catch that exhibition you’ve both been wanting to see before sharing ice-cream.
❸ Your next holiday is to:
A Hong Kong. You’re surprising him on a business trip because you know his female colleagues there are pretty.
B Penang. You wanted Boracay but he won the argument and you’re not letting him forget it.
C Bali. In a huge villa. There were 14 of you at last count.
D Kyoto. You both love geisha culture, plus you’re booked for sushi-making classes together.
❹ He wants Korean but you’re craving nasi lemak. You:
A Tell him you might die if you don’t get your way.
B Have a row and end up exhausted, sharing a tube of Pringles three hours later.
C Head for a foodcourt, chope the biggest table and share loads of dishes.
D Ta pau dinner and Netflix at home.
Mostly As: It’s not an impossible situation, but you guys could do with some professional help (sorry).
Mostly Bs: Hmm, wait and see but not for too long. Your future depends on how dirty you fight…
Mostly Cs: We see many joyful years ahead. Just make sure you share some quality, just-the-two-of-you time.
Mostly Ds: High-five! You have a lifetime of lovely love to look forward to.