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August 29, 2013

What are the Secrets to a Good Relationship?


If you ask people what quality they think makes a great relationship, odds are they’ll say communication. Of course, it’s important to have open communication lines between you and your partner, but according to an article posted on, communication isn’t everything.

The study discussed in the article involved over 2,000 online participants and tested seven “relationship competencies” that have been studied in the past and recognized as important relationship factors. The participants answered questions that tested their skills in each of the seven areas and discussed their level of satisfaction in their current relationship.

The seven competencies discussed in the study were:

  • communication,
  • sex or romance,
  • stress management,
  • conflict resolution,
  • life skills,
  • knowledge of partners, and
  • self-management.

As you might have guessed, the highest levels of satisfaction came from those participants who said there was effective communication in their relationships. We all know how important communication is in a good relationship, but we also know that there’s more to a successful relationship than being able to talk to each other.

The number two and three competencies deemed most important by the participants were knowledge of partner and life skills, two areas that therapists apparently do not usually focus on when counseling couples. For many years, there was a great deal more emphasis placed on  the emotional aspects of relationships, but researchers are now realizing there should also be an emphasis on practical aspects such as these.

Robert Epstein, who is the study’s lead author, said that knowing the likes, dislikes and inner workings of your partner could be fairly easy if people actually put the time and effort into using this knowledge in their relationship. According to Epstein’s 2011 study, “Which Relationship Skills Count Most?”, knowledge of partner is the strongest indicator of relationship satisfaction over time. Guess who scored the worst in this area? Yep, men. So ladies, it’s time to get your guys in check and make sure they remember even the most minute details like your favorite color, as well as more substantial things like your career goals or number of kids you want.

An interesting piece of advice from the authors behind the study was that therapists should perhaps start incorporating “more practical social skills” into their meetings with couples. Couples who are missing certain life skills could be referred to classes or other means of education to become a more well-rounded person, which in turn would help their relationship over time.  Definitely not a bad idea, especially for those couples who are looking towards a future together complete with marriage and children.

But do you really need a therapist to tell you to learn about taxes or mortgages or whatever other life skill you’re lacking? As an adult, you should want to learn those skills so you can contribute to your relationship on a deeper level, not to mention for your own well-being. If you and your partner have a good grasp on a variety of life skills, it will help create a less stressful and more enjoyable environment for the both of you.

Take a second to think about your current relationship and what makes it work. Do you agree with the top 3 competencies from the survey? Are there any other qualities you deem important for a successful relationship?

About the Author

Elisa Freese
Elisa Freese is a lifelong New Yorker with a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz and a Master’s degree from New York University. She has always had a love for writing and now that school and homework are finally done forever, Elisa is going back to writing on a regular basis. In addition to writing, Elisa loves anything that has to do with traveling, shopping, social media and TV/movies. With her experiences, as well as the experiences of her friends and family, Elisa hopes to shed some light on the ins and outs of dating to the readers of Nouveau Dating.

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