Relationships take work. Hard work. But the rewards to having a fulfilling relationship are MANY. Are you doing the things necessary to keep your relationship strong? Could it be stronger? Look for ways to improve your relationship today and everyday.
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
- You can be your true self with the other.
- Communication is spontaneous and open.
- There is a balance of closeness and separateness.
- You are able to take responsibility for your own behaviors without blaming your partner for your actions. (Get rid of “He/she made me do it.”)
- You discuss and negotiate rather than fight.
- You feel comfortable sharing your fears and insecurities.
- Rules and boundaries are clear, yet flexibility exists.
- You don’t lie, but you also refrain from using hurtful language in the name of being brutally honest. (Don’t say something just to be mean.)
- You enjoy doing things for yourself, as well as for the other.
- Personal growth is encouraged.
- You make it through rough times without splitting up or threatening divorce.
- You treat each other the way you would like to be treated.
- You have a strong sense of interdependence rather than dependency or co-dependency. (Equality within the relationship)
- There is play and humor in the relationship. You have fun together.
- You enjoy being together, but are able to spend time alone.
- You do not attempt to control each other.
- Each is trustful of the other.
- Privacy is respected.
- You both refrain from passive-aggressive behavior. (Silent treatment, hanging up phone, being late when the other is waiting)
- You forgive each other for mistakes.
- You actively listen to the other. (Really hear what the other is saying)
- You both are able to apologize. (Even when you do not think you are at fault, you can be sorry that your partner is feeling hurt.)
- You avoid mind reading and making assumptions. When upset you both seek clarity.
- You are able to validate each other- even when you disagree. (You recognize that the opinions and feelings of the other are important.)
- There is a balance in giving and receiving.
- Conflict is faced and resolved. Avoid allowing resentment to take hold.
- Negotiations are fair and compromise is present. Create win-win resolutions.
- Mistakes are accepted and lessons are learned.
- You NEVER bring up the intimate disclosures of the other when angry or arguing. Intimate disclosures are off-limits.
- Humility is present. You are able to give up always being “right.” Don’t let your ego get in the way.
- You are willing to make sacrifices for the other.
- You speak each other’s love language even when it differs from your own.
- You share mutual activities and interests.
- You NEVER call each other names or physically assault one another.
- You have strong friendship.
- You encourage and support each other. (“I have got your back.”)
- In conflict, you respect your partner’s need for a time out. (Time to calm down and think rationally before resolving an issue.)
- You do not expect your partner to complete you. You are secure in your own worth and want to share your life with them.
- Physical contact is mutually enjoyed.
- Appreciate each other’s strengths and overlook each other’s idiosyncracies.
- Both are open to constructive feedback.
- Other meaningful relationships and interests are present.
- You have similar values, but do not demand that the other have the same values as you. (Mutual respect exists)
- You are willing to take risks and be vulnerable.
- You avoid intentionally hurting the other because you have been hurt. No tit for tat. No keeping score of grievances.
The Secret to Applying Them
Focus on what you can change about yourself rather than concentrating on what your partner needs to change. Instead of approaching your partner with a “This is what you need to work on” approach- approach them with a “this is what we need to work on approach.” Then work on yourself regardless of the actions of your partner. You may be surprised to see what teaching by example can do for you and your relationship.
The more of these things you are doing- the healthier the relationship. Use this list to guide your growth rather than to judge your relationship. Just as no person is perfect, no relationship is perfect. Rather than demanding that you or your partner be perfect, look for areas of needed growth. See what you can do to improve the relationship with the one that you love.