5 Surprising Things That Contribute To Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships

As much as we love a happily-ever-after love story, most of us have come to realize that real-world relationships take a lot of work. Even the most devoted couples must sometimes navigate missteps, disagreements, and disappointment. But where some pairs dissolve at the first sign of trouble, others come through the fire stronger and better than ever before. What's their secret?

Like many happy couples, you can start off on the right foot by recognizing and prioritizing the ingredients of a long-lasting romance. With the crucial elements in place, managing your relationship should get easier over time. Similar to learning and perfecting any other skill, your ability to maintain a healthy and supportive duo will constantly improve — as long as you're consciously making an effort (via Psychology Today). Practice makes perfect, after all.

So, which qualities do you need to set your relationship up for success? Experts spend a lot of time talking about the foundations necessary for a healthy partnership, such as communication, compromise, gratitude, trust, and a balance of bonding time and personal space (via the University of Rochester Medical Center). But these principles are only the tip of the iceberg; relationships are complex, and plenty of other variables are lurking beneath the water. Specifically, here are five surprising things that can help lengthen the lifespan of your relationship.

Similar senses of humor

Many of us list a good sense of humor on our wishlist of a partner's personal qualities, but that doesn't mean looking for someone who cracks jokes non-stop. Rather, it's about finding someone whose outlook on comedy resonates with your own (via The University of Kansas). "A shared sense of humor is vital in relationships," dating coach and relationship expert Connell Barrett tells Elite Daily. "We want to laugh with our partner. It's human nature. Laughing together is a powerful way to affirm our romantic bond." It's true that comedy is very subjective, but a total lack of shared humor may leave you feeling like your partner is a cold fish. So, to foster connection in the long-term, it's important to find that shared laughter.

That said, if you're sensing a spark and humor is the one holdout, don't immediately throw in the towel on a relationship. As Barrett says of seemingly humorless partnerships, "They likely do share a sense of humor — they just need to find the same comedic wavelength. You see, there are actually six types of humor, and a couple only needs to connect on one of the six categories to laugh and love together." Try testing a few different forms of comedy to see if you have any common ground, such as absurdist memes, topical stand-up specials, or dark and witty films.

A shared taste for adventure

The couple who travels together stays together. Well, not always, but sharing an interest in travel and new experiences can help the longevity of your relationship. Visits to unfamiliar destinations often stand out in your memory, and having those positive feelings tied to time with your partner can bring you closer. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 79% of couples said that traveling together impacts their relationship positively, and 72% said it inspires romance. The key is to make sure that you are both excited and actively interested in the trip.

On the flip side, homebodies can also reap the benefits of sharing the same travel goals — or, in this case, lack of travel goals. If you'd rather cuddle with your sweetie on the sofa than explore new sites or go jet-setting around the globe, that's fine! But your relationship will be at its best if you share this preference with your partner. "Couples who have either a similar traveler spirit or homebody personality in common can become a long-lasting relationship," therapist Shannon Thomas tells Bustle. "It is very challenging to partner with someone who views the choices of travel or staycations very differently. One partner could feel held back from seeing the world and the other shoved out of their comfort zone."

Tackling challenges as a team

Sometimes, an us-against-the-world mentality can be a powerful way to bond as a couple. So when you're facing challenges or obstacles, try facing them together. These could be logistical hurdles like weekly housework or filing tax returns, or dealing with issues in your personal life like parenting or difficult family members. "Begin by thinking about the things you each actually enjoy doing, and then go from there," relationship expert Susan Quilliam suggests to Good Housekeeping. "Perhaps you feel a sense of satisfaction from doing the laundry, while your partner prefers cleaning the kitchen. Starting on a positive footing is always helpful."

How you work together is up to you — whether you literally want to team up on each task, or intentionally divide and conquer. But the important thing is to decide on your strategy together. If one partner experiences an unfair amount of pressure or responsibility, it can quickly put your relationship on the rocks. "I see this issue most often in how couples share housework and home maintenance needs," psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, tells The Zoe Report. When one person shoulders the bulk of the workload, she says, it "leads to resentment and the loss of goodwill between the couple. ... This is about cooperation, caring about the feelings and needs of their partner, and seeking a win-win, because it's never a win unless both people win."

Quilliam notes that your approach doesn't have to be set in stone. "Don't be afraid to suggest making adjustments as time goes by. If you're finding a task particularly exhausting or difficult, calmly suggest renegotiating, rather than carrying around simmering resentment. You might find that your partner is happy to come up with an easy solution to benefit you both."

Speaking the same love language

When you do something loving for your S.O., are they getting the message? This may depend on whether you share the same love language. The love language theory suggests each person gives and receives affection in one of five ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch (via the 5 Love Languages). When a couple communicates in the same love language, it's easier for each person to feel valued and appreciated, contributing to a healthier relationship overall. "The more tailored your love language is to your partner's needs, the greater their—and your own—satisfaction," psychology professor Maciej Stolarski, tells Time Magazine. "Your satisfaction is boosted not only if your partner adequately responds to your love-language preference, but also when you do the same for them."

The first step is to find out your love language if you don't know it already. Have your partner do the same, and then compare notes to see whether you're on the same page. But what if you don't share the same form of affection? Is that a deal-breaker? Happily, there are ways to protect your bond even if you and your partner have different love languages. By making an effort to express your love in the way they best receive it, that sense of affection will still come across. It will just take a little extra work and consideration than if you shared the same love language naturally.

Enjoying life at the same pace

Last but not least, the speed of your lifestyle may be a deciding factor in the success of any romantic partnership. Whereas some people may thrive on being total workaholics and go-getters, others prefer a more leisurely, laissez-faire way of drifting through the day. And while they say that opposites attract, it can be tough for people at either extreme to build a lasting relationship.

People who live at a slower pace with plenty of downtime may find having a high-energy partner is stressful or feel hurt that they're too busy with work and hobbies to share quality time together. "The spouse who has become well aware of coming in second in a list of priorities begins to lose confidence in [their] own desirability," psychology expert Barbara Killinger, Ph.D., tells Brides. But this isn't necessarily a sign that a workaholic doesn't love their partner — it may just be a case that their lifestyles clash.

By the same token, people who like to be on the go can find relaxed partners stifling, or assume that they're lazy. This can cause ill feelings down the line. For both partners to stay equally stimulated and involved in a relationship, it requires meeting in the middle, which is why a natural inclination toward the same lifestyle can be beneficial in the long run.