Many, many things go into a successful relationship: physical attraction, intimacy, trust, a shared sense of humor...lists like that -- which surely you've seen before -- go on and on.
But other qualities also definitely matter -- especially those on the following list.
And they're definitely signs that your relationship will last, because in the right relationship, your partner supports you, helps you personally and professionally... and helps you make your goals and dreams come true.
1. When there's bad news, your spouse is the first person you want to tell...not the person you most dread telling.
When good things happen, plenty of people can't wait to tell their spouse.
But what about when something bad happens -- and especially if that "something bad" is in some way your fault? That's a much harder conversation to have.
If you're in the right relationship, though, that is the first conversation you want to have: You know they'll listen, commiserate, empathize...and then help you find ways to make a bad situation better.
2. Your spouse won't let you give up on yourself.
Showing patience is an under-appreciated way to show genuine confidence in your spouse -- because it shows that, no matter the current struggles or issues, you truly believe in that person.
When I first changed careers, I struggled. I worked impossible hours just to scratch out a semblance of the income I once generated. But every time I talked about giving up, my wife kept me centered by gently reminding me that all the work I was doing would pay off if I stayed the course. "I have all the faith in the world in you," she said. "I know that if you give it time, you will figure this out."
I still work long hours, but the reward is much greater -- and I've figured out how to have a lot of fun doing what I do.
No success is overnight. That's why, when your partner is patient with you -- while also encouraging you to work hard -- you can sometimes achieve things you never imagined possible.
3. Your spouse doesn't expect you to change overnight.
I have a really bad habit I'm trying to overcome. (Actually I have plenty of bad habits; this is just one.) I often agree to do something way off in the future...only to want to back out when it gets close to the day. A therapist could probably have a field day figuring out why I do that.
So invariably I'll say something like, "You know, I don't think I want to go [somewhere] after all...."
Instead of saying something that I already know, like, "You always do this. Just suck it up and go," or, "People are going to be disappointed if you don't go," my wife smiles and says, "I really hope you will go. You'll have fun. You always learn things and meet cool people. And later, you're always glad when you do [that]. What can I do to help you get ready?"
In short, she doesn't make me feel bad for wanting to back out. She knows that's how I am, and instead of criticizing me, she's supportive and helps me work through it.
The right person knows there are things about you that you want to change, but they don't expect them to change overnight. They're willing, for as long as it takes, to help you work through your quirks.
4. Your partner helps you be more successful.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs.
That's true for men and women: "Partner conscientiousness" predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after factoring in the participants' level of conscientiousness. (Check this out for more on how a good partner sets a good example and makes it possible for you to become a better you.)
5. Your partner doesn't talk about you; they talk about the cool things you do.
We all know people who openly badmouth their partner: complaining about what their partner does (or doesn't do), criticizing their partner's decisions, questioning their partner's judgment, or work ethic, or manners, or...it's almost as if they wear their partner's failings like a badge of honor.
When you love -- and respect -- the person you're with, you don't gossip about their personal failings. You talk about their great qualities because you're happy for them...which is also a sign you're happy with yourself.
Or, more likely, you don't say anything at all, unless asked, because quiet pride is the best pride of all.
6. Your partner knows you well enough to have the ideas you should have had (and you love when they do).
A few years ago, I was in Nashville for Inc.'s GrowCo event. The day Mark Cuban appeared, one young man spent the entire day manning the green room door. I started to feel sorry for him; here he was at this cool conference and yet he was stuck in a chair guarding a door in a lonely hallway.
So I stopped to talk. He was surprisingly happy about doing that job but mentioned that he would love to meet Mark Cuban. I didn't say so, but I knew that would never happen: Cuban's time was tightly scheduled, plus local and national media were angling for time. The constant crowd of people wanting something from him would make that impossible.
A little later I called my wife and mentioned that the volunteer hoped to meet Mark. She said, "You can make that happen. Why don't you try?"
She was right. I could make that happen. So I did.
When you're with the wrong person, one or both of you sometimes care more about who had the idea than about the value of the idea.
In the right relationship, your partner knows enough about your work, your goals, your dreams, and the kind of person you want to be to offer ideas you haven't considered.
And when they do, you never feel like they're telling you what to do or meddling in your business...you're just glad. You just appreciate that they care enough to want to help you.
7. You feel your partner listens more than they talk (and they feel the same way about you).
The perfect partner is a master of Social Jiu-Jitsu, the ancient art of getting you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened.
It's easy. They ask the right questions, staying open-ended and allowing room for description and introspection. Asking the right questions, and then listening closely, shows they respect your thoughts, your opinions...and, by extension, you.
And you do the same for them.
8. They care more about doing something with you than whatever you actually do.
If you don't know there's a difference -- and you don't feel the same way about your partner -- then you're not with the right person.
9. You only have to think about what you want to say, not how you need to say it.
We all manage up, or sideways, or down, choosing our words carefully in order to frame an idea, or a suggestion, or feedback, or constructive criticism.... Oftentimes, in professional or personal settings, we feel we need to think more about how we want to say something than the essence of what we need to say.
When you're with the right person, you don't think about how you want to say something. You just say it, partly because you know they will understand...but also because you trust that you can work through any initial misunderstandings.
10. Your partner cares a lot more about finding what is right than being right.
Oftentimes, people in a relationship take a position and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard their partner's opinions or points of view. They know they're right -- and they want (actually, they need) their spouse to know it, too.
Those discussions are more about power than about making great decisions.
In the right relationship, neither of you mind being proven wrong. You feel finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And if your partner feels your point of view is better, they're secure enough to back down graciously...because ultimately, they feel you're in it together.
11. Your partner never hesitates to ask you for help.
Asking for help instantly conveys respect. Without actually saying it, you've said, "You know more than I do." You've said, "You can do something I can't." You've said, "You have experience (or talents or something) that I don't have."
What you've said is, "I respect you." That level of regard is incredibly powerful -- and empowering.
More importantly, though, asking for help instantly conveys trust because it shows vulnerability. When you ask for help, you admit to a weakness. That means what you've really said is, "I trust you."
Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength -- especially in your relationship.
12. Your partner not only forgives, he or she forgets.
When one person makes a mistake -- especially a major mistake -- it's easy for their partner to forever view them through the lens of that mistake. (Or to use that mistake as ammunition in disagreements or arguments.)
That's the easy thing to do.
It's much harder to move past a mistake and put it behind.
In the right relationship, you see living proof that to forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.
13. Your partner helps turn a flaw into a strength.
I have a need to be liked. That's not always a good thing, especially professional, but my wife encourages me to not only embrace what others might see as a failing but also to use it to my advantage.
For example, I don't like to write negative things about people, products, or companies. So I don't. I work hard to find people who are smart, talented, successful, insightful...and that way I never have to write anything negative. If I write about a person, that means I like and respect them. (In short, if I can't say anything good, I don't say anything.)
My wife doesn't expect me to be something I'm not. She just helps me be a better version of who I am.
If that's what your partner does, you're with the right person.
14. Your partner is genuinely thrilled when you are successful.
Great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make others happy. Great teams are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside personal goals, and value team success over everything else.
The same is true for great relationships: your partner doesn't resent your success, doesn't begrudge your success, doesn't need to claim a share of the spotlight... they're just genuinely happy that you are happy.
The right person believes, without thinking, that a portion of their happiness comes from seeing their partner succeed. And that means they not only celebrate your success -- they help you achieve it.
15. Your partner praises you more than they do anyone else.
It's easy to take people for granted, especially the people we see every day. But we all do things well and we all deserve praise and appreciation, even from the people we see every day.
When you're with the right person, they see the good in you, over and over again. The right person is also consistently appreciative.
Not only does that make you feel good, it can help make you a better person... because sometimes consistent praise is great motivation to try to be even better.