When you think about the defining moments in a relationship, it’s easy to focus on the first date, “I love yous,” or the ultimate move—getting engaged (and then married). While each of these is a very special moment, there are other milestones along the way that you should get psyched about too. Once you know which key events in your coupledom to look out for, you’ll be able to enjoy getting to them as well. When you do, make sure to take the time to savor them—relationships aren’t always easy, and getting one step closer to your S.O. means you’ve put some serious work in. We’ve rounded up the top five significant relationship milestones (other than getting hitched) so you can celebrate these victories along the way.
When You Accept Each Other's Flaws
When you get over the honeymoon stage, you’ll likely start being exposed to some of your partner’s habits that you haven’t seen before… like snoring or not doing the dishes. Yes, these will likely get to you at times, but your willingness to move past them signifies that you can see a future with this person.
When You Take a Trip—Just the Two of You
You’ll learn a lot about your partner by going away together, especially if you haven’t logged full days and nights together before. You’ll also see how adventurous (or unadventurous) your partner is based on the type of activities they want to do. “Your first trip will not only reveal your compatibility as a dating couple but ultimately how you will relate as a married couple,” says Allison Pescosolido, the co-founder of counseling service Divorce Detox. “Traveling can be seen as a mini test to see how your relationship works when you are together 24-7 and dealing with unpredictable circumstances.”
When You Spend a Holiday Together
This only really counts if you spend it with one of your families. Holiday gatherings tend to bring out the worst in people, and if you can make it through this, then you likely can get through just about anything. Plus, if one of you is willing to forgo seeing your own family, chances are it’s getting pretty serious.
When You Overcome a Loss
Whether it’s getting over losing out on your dream job or dealing with the death of a close family member, coping with a loss means you’re in it together. During difficult times, individuals see each other at their worst and are able to accept it—and love their partner for it.
When You Resolve Your First Big Argument
Healthy couples view conflict “as a means for growing together … an opportunity to understand each other better and to clarify their needs and values,” says Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW, a psychotherapist and expert in couples therapy. People often tend to disagree more with those they love. If both partners are willing to compromise and communicate with respect, then chances are you’ll emerge stronger than ever.
Want more? Be sure to read about the five communication mistakes you didn’t know you were making in your relationship, and pick up The Quiz Book for Couples.