I am thrilled to unveil this new blog series on relationships. Discovering how to maintain thriving and healthy relationships (both romantic and friendship) are crucial to a fulfilling life. We all need each other, the sooner we discover this, the better off we’ll be. Join me as we dive into the complex world of relationships.
Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship
A healthy relationship is made up of countless choices to love your partner daily, even when you don’t want to. An ideal relationship is composed of two people pulling equal weight, striving to lift the other up. BUT, we all know this is not always the case. Even the most healthy relationships, experience trials and struggles.
One partner may feel they are single-handedly holding the relationship together, while the other is struggling. In this case, this may still be a wonderfully healthy relationship, as one partner is supporting the other in their time of need. And at some point the roles will reverse and the other partner will be the strong one. If the roles never reverse and one partner is always doing the work, this will weigh on the relationship and will manifest itself through some type of negativity.
I want to be clear that a healthy relationship is NOT the same as a “perfect” relationship. There is NO such thing as a perfect relationship. Relationships are messy and complicated and wonderful. A relationship is compiled of two imperfect humans; therefore, it literally cannot be perfect. (Well, unless you think YOU are perfect, and if that’s the case, then that’s a different conversation, completely.)
What is a “healthy relationship?”
How does one gauge a “healthy” relationship? I will discuss FIVE characteristics present in all healthy relationships. There are countless other ways to measure the strength of a relationship, but these are five found in all solid connections. Without them you will struggle to maintain a trusting and loving relationship.
You’ve probably heard the old adage, ‘communication is key’. Well, it really is. In all relationships, both romantic and platonic, communication is vital. Whether you are expressing your disgust or admiration, communicate! Some people are naturally more gifted at communicating; nevertheless, both partners must communicate in a relationship. Lack of communication can lead to confusion, frustration, and resentment.
This one should go without saying, but for some it is not easy. If you struggle with trusting your significant other, then you won’t be able to fully enter into an intimately close relationship. If you find it difficult to trust because of a previous broken relationship, you may need to seek counseling or guidance. Trust is vital! If you and your partner can not trust each other now, it will NOT grow easier with time. Instead, jealousy, secrecy, and heartbreak are likely to follow.
Affection is expressed in a multitude of ways, not always physical. The five most infamous ways of expressing love are shown through the five love languages. If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, they are ways of expressing love, coined by author Gary Chapman. The 5 love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. As you read those just now, you may already know how you and your partner prefer to be loved. Potentially you receive love in totally opposite ways. No worries, that’s common. Learning to love your partner in the way they best understand and vice versa, builds a stronger bond. Whenever I am working with couples through premarital counseling, discussing the 5 Love Languages always helps them to better understand themselves and their partner.
Physically, emotionally, spiritually, you must feel safe around your partner. Free to be unashamedly yourself. We find refuge in another when we can fully be ourselves around them. If you feel apprehensive about your physical or emotional safety, then you probably need to reevaluate your relationship. Or reach out to a trusted friend or professional to discuss your concerns.
Read this as MUTUAL respect, one partner does not deserve more respect than the other. Both are human and deserve respect. Respecting yourself and your partner is important. Desiring the best for your partner and never intentionally humiliating them is essential. If you or your partner’s goal is to undermine the other every chance you get, ask yourself why? Do you believe your partner is worthy of respect? If not, why?
Are communication, trust, affection, safety, and respect key components of your closest relationships? Do you struggle with any of these? Consider your favorite/strongest relationships, what other qualities do you find in those relationships? Tell me in the comments below!
Want to learn more?
- Take this ‘Relationship Trust’ quiz created by the University of California, Berkeley
- Or watch this clip of John Gottman discussing the importance of trust. Click here