Every relationship, even the terrible ones that don’t end well for either party, will no doubt have it’s own important or memorable moments. They could be positive or negative; like your first trip to Disney Land or the first time you two get lost together. It may even be a combination of the two, like getting lost at Disney Land!

They all matter, and there’s certainly no discounting the power of strong emotion in forming memories, but, from a structural standpoint, it is possible to outline what most relationships could consider their “Big Five”. They may have already happened or they may be prophecies yet to come, but how you both choose to handle them can make or break the relationship going forward. They define your relationship past, present and future, so it’s best to tread carefully here if you’re in it for life.

Your first vulnerable conversation

The early period of a relationship is clouded by a lot of things, like the “honeymoon period” or how much cultural, personal, or societal weight you shoulder in how you interact with people. How much importance you place on a first date, or first impression in general, is going to be formed firstly by bias, then in retrospect as you learn more, comparing it to what you think you already know.

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When all the repression and social expectations are stripped away it leaves you able to truly connect with somebody on a deeper level, enough for you to get their juicy backstory and make a judgement call on if they’re right for you, at least. This is exactly what makes your first emotional excavation together so important – the timing and manner in which somebody opens up is worth remembering, as is what they say.

Your first argument

It might partially suck to put so much importance on what is inherently one of the worst parts of a relationship, but how you and your partner navigate your first conflict is going to set a lot of precedents moving forward. Even if your first fight is over something ridiculous, and even if you were both exhausted, stressed and by no means your kindest or most amicable selves – it’s worth remembering.

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What it takes to emotionally rattle you might seem like one of those things that affect only you personally, but a relationship should and will have to operate like a unit to get through life while holding strong. That means that what effects you will inevitably get to them too, either through your behavior, how you communicate the issue or how you expect them to help remedy it.

The first time you spend more than a week together

The relationship phenomena of “COVID burnout” was a subject of huge discussion during the pandemic, as all, even seemingly perfectly and functional, couples were now faced with an over-exposure problem. There’s one theory that posits that prolonged, confined contact during an ongoing, indefinite period of high-global stress might have accelerated people’s realisation that, ultimately, they just don’t like each other. Who could have predicted?

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It’s not unique to those circumstances, though. As couples also go through similar patterns when on their first holiday, or extended period of stay together. The fact you two can make it through that statistically difficult hurdle is a pretty good sign that you’re compatible and work well as a team, which makes it a milestone worth treasuring.

Moving in together

Every 90s and 00s sitcom tackled the difficult subject of moving in with a partner. Though they undoubtedly did play up the pace and scale of the absurdity, the real life situation might lack even the canned laughter. Moving is stressful; no matter how many times you do it, how far you’ve done it, and how many horror stories you amass, things can always get worse. Unfortunately, couldn’t the same be said of relationships?

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Vague and nonsensical comparisons like that will start to make sense when the stress of moving kicks in, which is exactly the issue. You’re both feeling overwhelmed, even though what’s happening is a cause for celebration and, ultimately, a sign of commitment and trust, so it’s understandable that 15 minutes of tense silence is often centre stage on the moving playlist.

Your first child

Obviously don’t play favourites with your children if you have any – this is about what the child represents, not who they are Moments of commitment are a landmark in relationships, something you keep in mind on the daily and allow to guide your actions moving forward. What says commitment more than bringing a tiny combination of both of your DNA into the world? It’s a pretty monumental promise to each other.

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Marriages end pretty regularly, which is healthy as it shows freedom of choice if nothing else, and it’s only the two of you that have to wade through the sticky realm of divorce. Having a child isn’t something you can just walk away from when things don’t work out, they’re dependent on you for everything and, someday, will carry a lot of the values you taught them into the world on their own terms.