Before we start a few statistics about the couples mentioned below:
1. 6 live together
2. 5 have pets
3. 4 don't live in Columbus
4. 3 are married
5. 2 are high school sweet hearts
6. 1 has two kids
7. All aren't perfect and have had their fair share of disagreements but in the end realize they wouldn't want to go through the peaks and troughs of life with anyone else.
So over the past 6 weeks I've been spending more time than usual with my friends. All of them are in long term, serious relationships. As a sort of social experiment (sorry to all my friends in advance ha-ha) I've been observing them to see what makes their relationship work and last. Now the things you're about to read aren't the only important aspects a relationship should have, there are way more. BUT, they are things I've noticed that you don't really think about most of the time, in my opinion. With that being said, here are a few things I've noticed that they ALL do (side-note: 7 couples over 3 states):
1. COOK - Honestly, this surprised me the most. All my friends cook together or for one another. Now I'm not saying that they never eat out because let's be honest, everyone loves take out once in a blue moon (especially zaaa). But the frequency in which they cooked correlated to a happier relationship. I watched and saw that preparing a meal together requires communication, teamwork, reliance and patience. It's a way to show that you care because you're literally providing for another person. It's such a small gesture but it goes a long way.
2. PHONE - This is another obvious one but rarely remembered one. In today's society everyone has a phone and is glued to it. These couples are not. Now, I'm not saying they don't ever get on their phones or that they don't sit together and play on their laptops while in the same room because they do. But, there is a silent respect when they are together in their own space that phones don't come first. They take a step away literally and talk to one another. Or they watch a movie. The point is they are doing something that involves undivided attention on the other.
3. PICTURES - This one surprised me a lot. All my couple friends have pictures everywhere. On the walls in the living room, in their bathroom, hanging on the fridge or next to their bed. They are everywhere and at first in my head I'm thinking, "why do you have so many pictures up?" Then I realized it's just another subtle reminder that you love one another. Having pictures up and lots of them remind you constantly of all the good memories created so when the bad moments happen—whether a moment of frustration or a larger disagreement—you can physically see why you are with this person. It's because regardless of their flaws you love them and happiness is always right in front of you. Now, I could be reading way too much into the aspect of pictures but something tells me I'm not.
4. PETS(& or children) - Okay, to have a pet isn't a requirement for the entire point behind this article but it definitely is a direct correlation for my friends specifically. Except the one couple who has two beautiful kids! I'm not saying your kids are animals by the way! You just are an outlier. Love you! Anyways, having a pet(s) is a way to share something together. You're literally raising something that depends entirely on you both. When you think about it, that's quite the burden to take on and it quite literally can break or make a relationship. You learn a lot about someone with how they are with their own pets. There is a lot of time, energy and money put into animals. You can't do that with just anyone.
5. TONE - Ah, the most subjective part of any relationship, tone. This one is tricky to write about because tone is individualize to the point of being almost completely unique and mere observation tends to be skewed when it comes to perception. I'm going to try to talk about it the best I can though. Anyways, there are categories for tone but each person puts a different spin on it. Now, with that being said tone is extremely important and how you read/deal with it really makes ALL the difference. Here's what I've seen from my friends in these long term relationships, EACH ONE OF YOU HAS A TONE. You have a tone if you're tired, frustrated, hungry, moody, feeling sick, cramping, bloated, happy, excited, giddy, overly overworked, drunk, etc. The most impressive thing that I've observed though? How you each deal or rather don't deal with it. Majority of the time none of you take it personally. That's seriously impressive. Sure you may feel slightly offended but you aren't internalizing these tones for extended periods of time (if you are, I sure as hell didn't notice). You guys understand that your partner has tones/moods/weak moments and you've accepted that's how they can be but not WHO they are and that is the key to success. It's honestly remarkable to watch. Some of you counter said tones with affection, others let it ride out, a few ask what is actually wrong and engage in conversation about it to try to help. It's fascinating. I could talk all day about it but I'll leave it at this for now. Tone shouldn't make or break a relationship if you're willing to learn about them and help.
6. AFFECTION - This one is split 50/50 and includes verbal compliments as well. Some of my friends come home and immediately hug or kiss their significant others. Others don't. It really depends on the couple. PDA is more on a spectrum rather than split down the middle too which again depends on the couple. However, what is similar across of all of them is that there is physical affection. There are hugs, hand holding, kissing, shoulder massaging, butt slapping (in a good game sort of way for those of you who have dirty minds!), etc. Whether every second or every other hour, the affection aspect is still strong and necessary. It shows that you love someone enough to be close and intimate.
7. LAUGHTER - Gosh the severity that laughing holds in my opinion is severely underrated. These couples are able to laugh at each other and themselves and realize that at the end of the day, they are not perfect and that's okay. Sure sometimes a line is crossed but a simple apology goes a long way and soon the laughter comes right back.
8. TRUST/HONESTY - So I'm lumping these together because I don't think you can have one without the other. There is such a strong bond of trust and honesty with all of these couples. I'll cover trust first. All of these couples can do things without their significant other and not have to worry about them not trusting them or vice versa. Now this could be due to a solid foundation of each couple proving there is nothing to worry about but I won't get into that. The point is, trust is faith and faith is success. As for the honesty front, these couples also are brutally honest with one another in both a good and a bad way. I've seen some of you point out that maybe one person is being super sensitive or dramatic. Or that they aren't actually listening to what you're saying. Here's the thing though, whether it's in that moment or not, the other person who is getting called out reflects and eventually agrees. It's amazing. Each one of you couples are able to be honest with each other and learn/grow from it rather than hold onto it and turn it into resentment. I think this goes back to the trust. You trust one another to support you individually and as a group to grown and learn together through the ups and the downs.
9. RELIABILITY - This one is short and to the point but really might be the foundation of all of the other listed attributes. All of these couples will be there for their significant other no matter what. They put them first the best they can and this in itself is a sacrifice. My couple friends live for their partners and I don't mean they put their life on hold and don't do anything for themselves. I mean they are willing to put their partners needs in front of their own when they are called upon and that is such a sacred gift which none of you take for granted. The prioritize another person is difficult but I'm yet to see a single one of you who hasn't proved the challenge is worth it.
10. FRIENDSHIP - The final thing I noticed is that ALL of my couple friends are best friends. They also all are friends with me ; ). But in all seriousness, these couples are friends at the core. Their entire relationship is built on friendship and that is such a great starting block I've realized.
Okay, so this post was long but in my opinion worth it. Thank you to all my friends that let me observe them without their knowledge. I love you all! And thank you for reminding me everyday that real love does exist and it isn't always the prettiest but it's always worth it.