When couples are in a state of distress and hopelessness about their partnership it is often difficult for them to have a sense of what a healthy relationship looks like. When people feel isolated, separate or distant from their partner they react by becoming angry, angry and controlling or they withdraw and pull into themselves. We all need relationships for survival. Most couples understand this on some level but do not have a sense of what it looks like to be connected and supportive of each other.
Here are 10 signs of a healthy relationship:
- Treat each other with respect, honesty and integrity. It takes a great deal of courage to allow oneself to risk being open to another person. This is even greater when that person really matters to us. Being sure to treat our partner the same way that we want to be invested strengthen our bonds.
- Offer a safe haven if your partner is in distress. We all need safe emotional connection and someone that we can depend on when we are upset, feeling down or feeling unsure of ourselves out in the world. Feeling emotionally isolated from our partner is terrifying. Learning to be there for each other when needed is the ultimate act of love.
- Be willing to accept your partner’s weaknesses, not just their strengths. Understanding where our partner is vulnerable and what their fears may be will create a sense of knowing that builds a strong foundation upon which a relationship can build and grow. We fall in love with our partner’s strengths (and they with ours!), It is the vulnerabilities and fears that create the bumps that can create disconnections in the relationship.
- Learn to resolve conflicts in a gentle and loving way. When we feel secure with our partner we are more able to resolve differences easily and not get caught in blaming each other and fighting to the death. Knowing that fights are really protesting over emotional disconnection can aid you in moving more quickly to resolution.
- Show interest in your partner’s life. When there is a strong bond in a relationship we are more open and curious about the things that excite our partner. We will not be able to create a strong connection unless we allow our partner to truly know us and for us to truly know our partner. Joining with our partner in things that make them happy creates the strong connections that we yearn for.
- Be willing to admit your mistakes and forgive mistakes made by your partner. There is a great deal of grace in being willing to take responsibility for the things that we may have done that causes friction in our relationship. Learning to forgive our partner when they make mistakes helps you reconnect more readily when there is an upset. The willingness to attend to our partner’s deepest disclosures is the beginning of mutual responsiveness and healthy connection.
- Be aware that there is no simple cause and effect when there are bumps in the relationship. We all get triggered occasionally and our behaviours can trigger our partner and begin a cycle that can become quite negative. Claiming your own moves and emotions in a negative cycle will allow you to reach for each other and join together against the negative patterns of behaviour that may derail the relationship.
- Be aware of your partner’s need for reassurance and support when they are struggling. Trust is built (and maintained) in a relationship when we can let our partner know that they are still loved even when we may be upset by their actions. Openness, attunement and responsiveness are key elements of a secure relationship.
- Communicate clearly and without blame or judgment. Speak from your own point of view and express the emotions that arise in a situation. Listen when asked to do so and only offer solutions if your partner lets you know that that is what they would like. Slowing down the discussion will allow both of you to remember that you are on the same team. Working together to help each other understands what is being felt and said is the key to communication success.
- Pay attention to your relationship and your love. Just as a flower will wilt and die if it is neglected, your relationship will also fail to thrive if you do not take the time to nurture it. Celebrate the big and small moments in the relationship. Love is a continuous cycle of coming together and losing connection. If we trust the connection we do not feel so much distress when there is a discrepreement – absolutely we know that our partner is there for us. Going out on dates, making small gestures and creating rituals will strengthen the bond between you so that you can withstand the bumps that are inevitable in any relationship.