As a therapist who works with many couples I find that often they are not sure about what makes a healthy love relationship. Some couples seem to think that any kind of conflict means that their relationship is doomed, others consider power struggles, put-downs and the type of fights that leave emotional devastation in its wake as being a normal part of love relationships.
Whilst there are no ‘hard and fast rules’ and certainly no guarantees, there are quite a few signs that give you a pretty good idea about the health of your partnership.
Signs Of A Healthy Love-Relationship:
Common interests - Having a variety of interests ensures that your life is exciting, rewarding and never dull. Whilst it is not at all necessary that your partner shares each one of these interests, it is important that you have some that are common to you both.
Flexibility - The ability to compromise is a huge factor in relationships. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will be to engage in frustrating and destructive power struggles.
Acceptance of differences - A vital ingredient of a healthy relationship is the acceptance of your partner's differences. Expecting them to think, feel and act the same as you only sets you up for continual disappointment, frustration and conflict.
Realistic expectations - Those who recognise that ALL relationships have their fair share of difficulties and that the partnership journey contains some rather bumpy stretches for everyone, will find healthy relating significantly easier than those who expect partnership to be a bed of roses.
Shared goals - Healthy relationships require some common goals. Working towards a goal that is important to both partners not only supports a couple's commitment but serves to deepen their sense of intimacy and connectedness.
Shared decision-making - Once you have a love partner, you need to recognise that whilst it is important to retain your 'I' in your relationship, it is equally important to remember that you now you also have a 'we' to consider. Respect of your partner's hopes, wishes and needs is vital to the nurture of the 'we' in a love relationship.
Common values - As your values are what defines who you are in this world, having a commonality of at least the most important ones of those with your partner gives you a much better foundation for relationship success.
Good communication – Being able to communicate effectively minimizes points of friction and makes effective conflict resolution much more likely.
Despite having a much better chance at relationship success if you have the above illustrated factors in place, it is vital to remember that good relationships don’t just happen but are MADE. This means that a good, healthy and lasting relationship requires a willingness and commitment to work at it. So, what can YOU do? Let me share 5 do’s and don’ts with you.
Do ensure that you support your partner in achieving their most cherished hopes and dreams.
Do remind your partner OFTEN why you love them, what you appreciate about them, what they mean to you.
Do show your partner that you accept and love them despite their failings and frailties.
Do remember that your partner cannot read your mind. So be sure to let them know your needs and wants.
Do realize that your partner, hard as they may try, cannot fulfill every one of your needs. Take responsibility for taking care of yourself when appropriate.
Don’t be afraid of dealing with conflict and try your best to look at the conflict issue from both points of view – yours and your partner’s. Remember that arguments are not there to be ‘won’ but to be resolved.
Don’t make promises that have no intention of keeping.
Don’t say things unless you really mean them.
Don’t coerce, intimidate, manipulate or threaten your partner, no matter how angry or justified you may feel.
Don’t sweat the small stuff!