The Key to a Successful Relationship
– Talha Afzal
Conventional wisdom holds that communication is the core ingredient of every successful relationship. However, recent studies show that there is more at play than just communication. Being good at communicating your needs may be important but not the only criteria for a successful relationship. Epstein, Warfel, Johnson, Smith, & McKinney (2013) tested six elements of a relationship to rank them in order of importance. The idea was to weed out the important elements from un-important ones. The six elements tested were: communication, romance, managing stress, managing-self, skills in life, and understanding partner’s needs. Research participants were asked to indicate their satisfaction in each of these areas. They were then asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with their current relationship. The two were then linked. The analysis found that couples who indicated that their communication was strong were the happiest with their relationship (Epstein, Warfel, Johnson, Smith, & McKinney 2013). After communication however, the two most important ingredients of a successful relationship were life skills and knowledge of preferences of partner. Knowledge of partner’s preference included things like food preferences, dreams, goals, and aspirations. Life skills include the ability to manage money and make a living.
Relationship counselors rarely pay attention to these two areas. Their prime focus is on strengthening communication between couples. According to them, this reduces friction in relationships and creates comfort. Traditionally, relationships were thought to perform best when emotional needs were met. However, latest studies indicate that relationships need to cater to practical realities as well. The lead author of the study says that men need to work more on learning about their partner since they don’t do as well on this area as women. Small things like remembering birthdays and anniversaries can go a long way.
Epstein, R., Warfel, R., Johnson, J., Smith, R., & McKinney, P. Which relationship skills count most? Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 2013, 12, 297-313.