What defines a healthy relationship? We will all have opinions on the matter. For some, the traditional ideas of being married, having a home and children are key indicators of harbouring healthy and long-lasting relationships. For others, it is about shared ambitions, trust and transparency, fun or loyalty, friendship or teamwork. Everybody has a different ideal and how wonderful it is that in today’s modern world, the rigid barriers of tradition have shifted so that people can choose the healthy relationships that they want to be in and the course in which they want their relationship to take.
The point being, whatever your beliefs and whatever your ideal relationship looks like, there are several factors that contribute to maintaining a healthy one. Let us explore them today.
Pillars of a healthy relationship
Effective communication: Are you able to effectively communicate with one another? Be mindful that no relationships are perfect and arguments are a normal part of the communication process. They are bound to arise from time to time! Therefore, how you and your partner address conflict is incredibly important. Making the decision to actively listen to each other and to learn how to deal with one another during times of anger, frustration or stress is an ongoing, ever-evolving journey, so it is important that you are able to channel patience where possible. Always aim to approach moments of conflict as calmly and constructively as you are able. It is also imperative that you are both able to compromise when necessary. If you find that you are repeatedly having the same arguments, or that the level of conflict within your relationship is increasing over time, it may be worth confronting the reasons why.
Shared understanding of one another’s needs: You cannot maintain a healthy relationship if you are unaware of what it is that you need and what it is that your partner needs in order to be happy. So often, we miss the mark in knowing what our basic needs are. As an act of preventative care, initiating conversations every so often as to whether your mutual needs are being met can be incredibly helpful in ensuring your ongoing happiness.
Teamwork: Maintain the principle that when you are in a relationship you are essentially a part of a team. As a team, you should be loyal to one another and committed to your mutual journey. This notion of teamwork collectively prioritises the chief values of friendship, trust and support. As long as you are facing your difficulties together in this way, you are functioning as a healthy, strong and united partnership.
Respect: Upholding mutual respect for one another, even during the difficult times is essential. To respect one another is to conduct yourselves with patience, with empathy and with the recognition that both of your views and opinions are valid and deserve to be acknowledged. Coming from this frame of reference will make everything easier to manage when times are hard.
Fostering individuality within your relationship: Healthy relationships recognise the importance of individuality. Allow yourselves separate time in which to do the things that you love away from one another. Whatever that may be. It is important that you allow yourselves the space to identify with the person that you are outside of your relationship. Even if it is for an occasional hour, afternoon or weekend.
Intimacy: I say this with regard to emotional intimacy as well as the physical side of things. Being open about your emotions is about being honest and true to yourselves. Being comfortable when sharing your feelings with each other is a key component to maintaining a healthy relationship. It is also important that you do not compare your relationship to others that you perceive as successful, particularly where physical intimacy is concerned. You will each know whether you are happy or not where intimacy is concerned and it is up to you to gauge the levels of intimacy that are best for you.
Be mindful that however healthy your relationship truly is, it is not all plain sailing. Like life, our relationships will suffer its fair share of ups and downs. Relationships take work and they most definitely require nurturing, patience and understanding. Whatever problem that you face, there is always a solution as long as you are both committed to trying to reach a resolution.
If you find that your relationship is struggling, do not hesitate to try couples counselling. The therapeutic process will allow you the space in which to explore your difficulties and concerns in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. You will also have the opportunity to develop communication techniques or strategies unique to your experiencing in order to minimise any potential rifts or conflict moving forward in your life together.
Wishing you love and happiness,