What makes for a lasting relationship, one that stands the test of time, stands against the conflicts and crises of life? You don't have to have ample finances, or robust health or an abundance of opportunities or an expansive support network to stay together long-term.
My husband and I have been married for 36 years. We raised five kids and homeschooled the lot of them at a time when only a handful of other families in our area were doing that. We dealt with poor health and its effects on job prospects and financial security for years.
Sometimes we fit together well, sometimes we didn't get along at all. Some years he was the hero, sometimes I was. Sometimes nobody was.
I think in the early years we didn't have the slightest idea what we were doing. But as time went on, we both learned how to look after the people we loved. We had each others' backs. He would do anything in his power for me. I would do anything I could for him.
In the beginning, we may not have known how to have a relationship that would stand the test of time. But you don't stay together for 36 years and counting by accident. Some decisions and some commitments have been made along the way that are not subject to change.
University of Toronto psychologist Amy Muise and her collaborators wanted to know why some couples stayed together, and how they kept the spark in their relationships alive. In 2013, Muise and her team studied 44 couples who had been together ranging from 3 to 39 years, for an average of 11 years.
An article about their research on Psychologytoday.com described two models about relationships. One is the communal model of a relationship. The other model referred to was the exchange model.
In the communal model, couples stayed together longer. They took care of each other's needs. And couples who had sexual passion for each other seemed to be most willing to put each other first in everyday life.
In the exchange model, partners weigh each others' contributions to the relationship. They operate from a bargaining position rather than from one of being willing to give freely.