Traits of a Healthy Relationship
What exactly is a healthy relationship?
You might not even care - until you need to.
Use this list as a mini-inventory. Some will be strengths, and some will need work. Focus on making one small change at a time because that will motivate you to keep going!
1. Balancing needs of the relationship with the needs for self-care
In any relationship, there is a give and take. If there isn't a healthy balance, the relationship starts to suffer.
Susan gave up her workouts because it cut into family time. Because of that, her stress increased and she started to feel depressed.
When you give up what you need, you pay a price.
When you put the needs of the relationship ahead of yours, it's a sign of codependency.
2. A willingness to communicate without blame and stick to the point
Communication is the number one problem in relationships.
By using "I statements" the focus is on you and avoid blame or criticism. Whenever you start a sentence with "you" it goes downhill fast. Simple but effective.
3. Knowing when to talk things out and when to walk away
Knowing how and when to talk things out is the key to building a healthy connection.
The typical argument starts when one person wants to talk NOW instead of waiting until both are ready. Forcing a conversation never works out well.
Matt comes home frustrated and immediately criticizes how dirty the house is, but Sherry is exhausted after being home all day with the baby.
The best time to talk is when both are ready. When you can talk, listening is much easier.
4. Physical affection and touch that is mutually enjoyable
A physical relationship fades for two reasons. The friendship is damaged because you no longer feel known or supported by your partner. Or, you are holding onto old hurts or resentments that need to be healed.
Healing relationships often means seeking outside help. Couples workshops are a great way to get some healing done fast. Plus it usually means a weekend away!
A lack of affection starts an emotional disconnect that is hard to fix. Rebuilding the friendship is the starting point.
5. Able to express anger assertively without making the other person wrong
Very few people grow up with healthy role modeling around anger. Yelling and name calling are common but they do damage. Saying how you feel without blame is the goal.
I'm really angry that you didn't help me clean up after the party. I'd appreciate if you could do the leftover dishes.
Instead of: "You make me so mad because you never help out when we have company!"
The first one focuses on the facts, but the second one is a judgement and by using the word "never" it becomes an attack.
6. Recognize if you need professional help and get it
Couples wait an average of six years before getting help. Even if you are the only one wanting help, that is enough to make positive changes in the relationship. It starts with you.
7. Support each other without having to agree
Getting agreement isn't always necessary to have good communication!
Every couple has "grid-lock issues" which according to The Gottman Institute consists of differences that don't change over time. So the more realistic (and attainable) goal is giving validation. Basically, it's telling the other person that you can see their point of view. You don't have to agree to validate!
Pick one relationship skill and go!
It's easier to focus on one skill until you've mastered it. Share this blog with your partner and talk about which ones are strengths and which ones need work. Or, volunteer which ones you want to work on and lead by example. Sometimes, that's the most powerful tool you have.