relationships

What Makes A Healthy Romantic Relationship?

 

I think the most frequent question clients seek an answer to is 'what does a healthy romantic relationship look like?' This question has a unique answer for any individual and an even more specific answer for any couple. There are some basic ways of thinking about what creates a healthy relationship that can be used as a framework for setting up the details of how the relationship ends up developing in order to lead to success.

healthylove

Healthy relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, follow certain ground rules that allow each person involved to be happy without compromising the happiness of the other person. This includes parent-child dyads, siblings, professional relationships, your relationship with your neighbors, etc. You get the idea. Basically anyone with whom you are interacting that your behavior and mood effects.

Imagine if everyone lived by this general framework. We would have a web of interconnected and happy people all around the world. Each person can do their little part and hope that the effects trickle out and have a far reach. As any one person is more happy, other people in their life can be more happy. 

If for some reason you are not happy or you are making someone unhappy, it is your responsibility to either work through the difficulties to the extent that you are not made to feel more unhappy than you were when you started, or you may want to consider distancing yourself from that person so that you are not contributing to the perpetuation of unhappiness for either of you.

You can obviously choose to stay in the unhappiness if there is no alternative, but in that case, I would suggest consciously seeking out and establishing times and places of serenity for yourself so that you can maintain your identity and strength throughout the time you that have to maintain that particular relationship. 

So let's get to it. What are we aiming for? How can we be happy without taking away from the happiness of someone else? Believe it or not, it's not selfish, it's actually quite realistic.

One of the most important things to understand is that every type of relationship including romantic ones is a) a series of disconnects followed hopefully by b) repair then c) reconnection.

To speak specifically about romantic relationships, there are a) misunderstandings, arguments, disagreements, resentments, lack of affection, anger, inconsiderations, etc. followed by b) effective communication, in depth conversation, rekindling of positive emotion, physical touch, repetitive discussions, etc. until c) resolution is reached and both people feel loving and loved again.

The parts that are specific to each couple are how the pattern of disconnect, repair, and reconnection happens. Knowing how to engage with your partner effectively may take some counseling or educating yourself through books or advice from people in healthy relationships, but it is well worth doing. 

Either way, if you haven't picked up the skills of repairing and reconnecting, which many people haven't, it makes life a lot easier and happier to put some effort into this venture. Once you learn the skills and have the tools, you will be able to use them over your lifetime.

I can't think of a skill that is more important in life than being able to productively engage with other people so that you and the other person are thoroughly fulfilled. Feeling this type of satisfaction allows people to live content and at their maximum potential encompassing all aspects of their life.

A healthy relationship consists of: 

  • Trust by both people that is validated through virtuous behaviors while with the person and when they are not around.
  • The other partner is taken into consideration when decisions are made. Partners regularly consult each other in all aspects of life, including the parts of their lives that do not include the other person.
  • Allowing yourself and your partner to develop a strong core self throughout your time together. This includes having a healthy balance of separate and conjoint interests, friends, and life goals. By encouraging each other's self-growth, both partners can become happy as individuals while finding fulfillment within the relationship. 
  • Problem solving happens together. When one person brings up a problem, the other person tolerates their own feelings around it and works through not just how they feel but also how their partner is feeling until both people feel a sense of resolution. Problems are not avoided, disregarded, or invalidated.
  • There is a fluid healthy concern for the partner while not feeling responsible for their mood or actions. Everyone is responsible for their own emotional states. All any partner can do is be supportive and caring. 
  • Kindness at all times goes without saying. This is mandatory for successful relationships. 
  • Sex is talked about. How much or how little, when, and in what ways sex happens is discussed and understood by both partners. There is respect for the other person's physical body and emotional state when sex is happening. 
  • There is a high level of feeling comfortable with each other that is not taken for granted or seen as a weakness. Just because a person is choosing to be there does not imply that that person will always be there. It is a choice to be with someone and the relationship needs to be nurtured in order for it to continue growing. If it is not nurtured, just like any plant or your own emotional or physical well-being, growth will become stunted or stop altogether.
  • Conversation is based upon listening to understand, not listening to respond. Hearing and being present when your partner is speaking or telling you something through body language allows your connection to grow stronger. 

Love is just a word until you and your partner create a meaning for it. Create your special meaning consciously and kindly. Love is far from what Hollywood makes it out to be. The meaning of love you create will be different than what you have seen in other relationships. In the same way that it's important to be yourself an individual, it's important to create a unique partnership that is well-suited to what you and your partner are looking for instead of what is expected of you or what the media sells it to be.

If you are feeling more uncomfortable than you would like, that is when you know that it is time for a change. Our minds are resilient, they can withstand change and brief uprooting until a sense of comfort and happiness is established. It is worth trying for because you can't have what you want unless you try to get it.

There are many details that go into making a relationship healthy so that both people can be happy. Having the information of what makes a healthy relationship is the starting point of having one. The next step is making it happen.

5 Damaging Myths About Relationships

We all have something to learn when it comes to being in a healthy, interdependent relationship.

Check out this quick article that debunks a few of the myths which can be damaging and a waste of your time and mindspace to maintain as truths.

Click here to read more.

1. If I experience any doubt in my relationship, I'm with the wrong partner.

2. If I don't feel butterflies every time we're together (or if I never had them), I don't really love him or her.

3. If I don't miss my partner when he or she is away, I must not really love him or her.

4. I should want to spend every moment with my partner, especially after we get married.

5. Sex should always be fantastic and I should want it all the time. 

Ban the Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a huge predictor of divorce. This demand/withdraw pattern is a common defense practice in many couples that can be easily removed from arguments with a better understanding of your partner's inner world. Why they are making particular demands or why they are withdrawing from demands can provide useful information that can help heal the relationship instead of make it more volatile.

Oftentimes, one partner is responsible for the demand part of the pattern and the other is responsible for the withdraw part. Catch yourself next time you feel this way and express to your partner what is coming up for you. Usually, the argument isn't about the subject at hand. It is most often about feelings that both partners do not feel safe enough to express. Getting out of this pattern can shift the way you connect to your partner and create a more loving forum for open conversation. If you feel you are stuck in this pattern, a few sessions of Life Coaching can potentially help change the way you converse with your partner.

Click here to read the full article.

Where did the love go? ...I’m not feeling the way I’m supposed to.

First off, I want to say that 'supposed to' is a very strong phrase. If this phrase ends up in your thoughts or perceptions, it's usually a good indicator that what follows it may not be a part of your authentic feelings about what you as an individual believe in. 

This article makes some excellent points about the fact that there are several myths on which we as modern day society base our expectations of ourselves and our partners in a marriage or long-term romantic commitment. The most striking of these myths is that oftentimes, two people think that if they love each other, they shouldn't fight. 

The reality is that any two people who spend enough time together will eventually find themselves in some sort of conflict. This reality has no bounds as far as which two people you consider. This could be with a family member, a lover, or a child. Just because there is conflict doesn't mean that the love has come and gone.

Conflict is a very natural and without it, we wouldn't have a forum to exchange differing ideas. Note that there are a plethora of ways in which conflict can be had productively and kindly. There is never a good time to go ballistic on anyone. Learning to manage conflict and to repair the possibly ruptured connection afterwards are key.

As you can read more about in this article, Dr. John Gottman's research found that a whopping 69% of the ongoing problems in marriage are unresolvable. This statistic may be comforting to many people. It means that the majority of couples are having the same difficulties you are – about money, sex, in-laws, kids, whatever. Stick with it, and you will find that choosing to move through time with a fellow flawed human, learning and growing with somebody you love and trust is, despite all the difficulty, is what really makes us happy at the end of the day.

For more great insight, check out the full article by clicking here.