How To Make Sure Your Relationship Is Solid

My husband Mike and I first met at a friend’s wedding but were so busy with the day’s events that we never got past “hello.” He lived in Washington D.C. and I lived in Los Angeles so that was that.

Fast forward seven years. The same couple was now having a housewarming party. Mike had, by that time, moved back to Los Angeles and we met again at that party. We spent all night talking to only each other-so much so that everyone else noticed it and commented about it to our hosts. We called each other every night and talked for hours. We started planning our wedding the very next month. We never looked back. Mike and I have now been together for 18 years and married for 17 of those years.

Our life together hasn’t always been easy. There have been periods of unemployment, serious medical problems, eight miscarriages and the deaths of my parents as well as some dear friends and our beloved bulldog, Boris.

We know friends who have bailed for far less. We don’t know if it’s because they were in their 20s when they got married or if they had unfulfilled dreams that marriage interfered with. Whatever the case, the reason we are still together comes down to one word: Love.

OK, OK. I know you’re shaking your head and saying “Really? That’s your big reveal?” and my answer is yes. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to see if the one you’re with is the one who’s truly everlasting.1. What if sex was taken out of the question-through injury or illness? Would you still want your SO in your life, to have and to hold forever? Love is very different than lust. Make sure you know that.

2. Do you care what happens to your SO? If he breaks his arm, will you drive him to the hospital or give him $20 for a taxi? If she’s having a panic attack, will you tell her it’s all in her head or will you embrace her and hold her tight until it passes?

3. Are you willing to sacrifice for your SO? What if he loves gory films and you hate them? What if she dreams of a vacation at a cabin in the woods when you’re more of a downtown kind of guy? Are you willing to at least give it a shot-to show an effort that you care enough to put your needs and wants aside for a little while?

4. How mature are you? Be truthful here. Men and women age at different rates and it’s not always necessarily about a number. Do you have the patience to wait for your SO to grow up?

5. Does your SO show signs that he/she is prone to mental/physical or emotional abuse? Don’t defend that. Run for the hills. It will only get worse.

6. Do you have similar feelings about children/money/religion and politics? You need to tackle these topics early on and resolve your differences regarding them-or at least agree to disagree.

7. Do you truly respect your SO? It’s one thing to joke about your better half amongst friends in a lighthearted way: “James loves the pecan part of the pie and I love the filling, so we only need to order one slice.” But another to be mean-spirited: “Marian is so fat she needs a seatbelt extender on the plane.”

These are just a handful of topics to think about. I’m certainly no expert, but my track record is pretty good. And the handful of dear friends who have been married even longer than us have proven these questions are meaningful too. Not every day can be like winning the lotto or getting a promotion, but long-lasting marriages are about the little, day-to-day things. But wait, I’ve gotta go. My husband just came in to rub my shoulders because he knows I’ve been writing all day. Plus, he brought me a cookie.