10 Characteristics Of A Healthy Relationship
Healthy relationships are the stuff of life. We desperately seek them and are heartbroken when they don’t work out. Is there a secret sauce to relationship bliss? Those that are happily coupled share 10 characteristics of a healthy relationship.
Small Things Matter
Although these tips apply to all types of relationships, they’re particularly vital for intimate ones. If relationships thrive in an atmosphere of safety, trust, and kindness, it would make sense why they wither and die when these conditions are missing. Are these characteristics alive and well in your marriage, or do they need resuscitation?
1. Acts Of Love And Kindness
Little things matter. Opening a door, a word of encouragement, a knowing smile, or a look of quiet understanding. All these acts of kindness make a difference. They cement relationships over time. Random acts of kindness should be an integral part of every relationship. Don’t conceal your adoration, let it shine.
Affection shows you care, and doesn’t take much time, but the rewards are great. Send a text, hold hands, or bring flowers home just because. Be spontaneous with your kindness, it really does count.
Marriages break down for many reasons, but often the deterioration can be traced back to a lack of kindness, care, and generosity. If these are in place, satisfaction increases many fold. Never underestimate the power of kindness.
2. Love Is Patient And Kind
Unkindness is a surefire way to kill a relationship or break an established bond. Connection is fostered from an atmosphere of patience, respect, and kindness. Criticism and harsh words create a divisive wedge between partners. It takes integrity and courage to be considerate when you don’t feel like.
Bite your tongue and count to ten when you’re tempted to go into a spiteful liturgy. Don’t say that mean remark that’s on the tip of your tongue. You’ll be glad you didn’t when your anger subsides. Mean words can’t be retracted, and remain forever in the memory of those that hear them.
How much time do you spend celebrating your partner’s wins? Sure, you may be there during life’s storms, but are you fully present, as well, during times of triumph? Competition should be left on the field or court. Authentic relationships genuinely cherish and applaud each other’s accomplishments.
3. Listen To Understand
Ask yourself this question? “Do I really listen to my spouse, with the intent of understanding the meaning behind their words?” In our harried and rushed lifestyles, do we make this a priority? I doubt it or the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.
Realize that listening is different than hearing. Listening connotes interest and understanding, and requires empathy and compassion. It’s the ability to acknowledge and validate another’s feelings without judgment, extending words of comfort and solace. Considering this is what we all want, why is it so hard to extend this kindness to others? Especially to the people we love the most.
Taking the time to listen and understand prevents future heartache, frustration, and miscommunication. Listening is an art cultivated through practice. The more you do it, the better you’re able to do it. This crucial life skill, will not only improve your marriage, but will enhance all areas of your life, including business associations, social interactions, and friendships.
4. Communication Is Essential
We all want our needs met, at least most of the time. How can you expect your partner to do this if the communication between you isn’t effective? Your partner is a terrible mind reader so don’t bank on this tactic. It won’t work.
State firmly, but kindly your expectations, and allow your partner the same privilege. Then both of you work within these boundaries to meet each others needs to the best of your ability. Be true to your word; say what you mean, and mean what you say. Let integrity be a defining feature of your character.
Communication is essential for true connection. Without connection, there is no relationship. Make your heart a soft place to land for your spouse, where they can share both their joys and their sorrows. Place no restrictions on what emotions are safe to share.
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect is a great read to improve your communication skills.
5. Make It Fair
Divide household tasks and childcare, making it fair to each partner. It doesn’t take much time for resentment and bitterness to build if things are unequal, with one partner pulling more than their share. Keep the lines of communication open so each person knows how the other feels, and be willing to switch things up as needed.
There’s no room for pride here. Pride keeps score, nitpicking every little thing your partner does and doesn’t do, while turning a blind eye to your own mishaps, and expecting more praise than your accomplishments deserve. Ditch any entitlement you feel. There’s no place for that in marriage.
Your spouse doesn’t “owe” you anything, you aren’t more “deserving” than they are. Entitlement is a destructive force in marriage because essentially it’s the belief that you’re better than your partner, and deserve special treatment. This deranged mentality leads you to believe that what you’re getting is always less than what you gave, even though this is a misrepresentation of reality.
6. Resolving Everyday Conflict
Conflict is inevitable, it’s how we handle it that matters. Deal with conflict as it happens. Problems that are left to fester, with no resolution, lead to contempt. Contempt is dangerous in any relationship. When troubleshooting, focus on solutions, rather than who is or isn’t right. Stick with the issue at hand, not bringing up or reliving painful events from the past.
Diffusing conflict quickly, prevents issues from looming larger than they really are. Two heads are better than one, and talking through conflict puts problems into perspective. Quickly identify what isn’t working, devising strategies for resolution.
Be charitable in the judgment of your partner’s actions. What was the intent behind what they did? In most cases, it was merely a function of human nature, rather than malicious intent. We’re all subject to how we feel physically or the stresses at the moment, driving our sometimes thoughtless actions. Don’t go looking for crimes that weren’t committed.
7. Trust And Forgiveness
Nothing else will matter much without trust. Trust is the foundation upon which loving relationships are built. A shaky foundation won’t stand long without the essential building blocks of trust and forgiveness. When hard times come, and they surely will, trust is what carries you through. Knowing your partner has your back, no matter what, is half the battle.
Trust also encompasses the virtues of faithfulness, loyalty, and honesty, all traits of enduring relationships. It takes integrity and compassion to tolerate behavior you dislike, without disrespecting the person you love. Selfless caring is not easy, requiring a high degree of patience and persistence.
Forgiveness is the compassion to see the inherent goodness in your partner even when they drive you nuts. To be insightful enough to understand what may be driving their behavior. Forgiveness releases past hurts, judgments, and offenses, mustering the courage to begin again tomorrow, with a promise to try harder. This is the hard work of relationships; forgiving and beginning again. It’s believing in the future even if the past as been disappointing.
Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken is a helpful reference to those seeking to restore broken trust.
8. Compassion And Empathy
It’s human nature to judge and criticize when things don’t go our way, of if those we live with fail to meet our expectations. Acting with understanding and empathy, when we don’t feel it, takes emotional maturity.
Sacrificing our own needs to provide comfort and emotional support to a hurting spouse will never go unrewarded because it further cements the bond we’ve hopefully been trying to build. Men and women don’t always feel the same. It’s an intuitive and wise spouse who can see past these differences, validating the emotional needs of their partner, even when they don’t understand the reasons behind the hurt.
It’s not the job of a spouse to try to make sense of their partner’s pain, to give advice, or to fix it. A compassionate ear is sometimes all that’s needed. For women especially, putting our experiences into words, and naming what we’re feeling, brings clarity to the situation, making it easier to bear. It’s not a quick fix we’re seeking, but a meaningful connection with our significant other.
Here is a great book called What Radical Husbands Do. You can purchase it here.
9. Be Your Own Person
Your spouse’s responsibility is not to make you happy. This is a recipe for disaster because it’s expecting the impossible. Each person is responsible for their own happiness. The love of a spouse is just the icing on the cake. It’s supplemental to who you are, not foundational. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you set your expectations too high, because your spouse, like you, is only human and human nature disappoints.
Happiness comes from within, seeking it from outside sources will always fail. We’re all responsible for our own emotions, and relinquishing this responsibility to someone else, is at the very least, unfair, and long term will be disastrous. Your partner will come to resent what’s expected of them, leading to discord, and possible dissolution of the relationship.
Your fulfillment, sense of purpose, and happiness is your responsibility alone. You partner’s job is to encourage, champion, and provide support. Marriage can certainly extend happiness, but you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re expecting it to transform your unhappiness to bliss.
10. Acceptance And Commitment
Some things can’t be fixed. Acceptance is the realization that some things may never change, but the decision to love remains. Acceptance sees reality for what it is, embracing both the good and the bad. It’s the ability to accept your partner, foibles and all, acknowledging their efforts at improvement. Don’t stay stuck in what’s not working, rather focus on your partner’s contributions.
Acceptance allows you to see your differences as assets instead of drawbacks. You can accomplish far more as a team, than either one of you can individually. Play to your differences, making them work for you. Divide and conquer in all areas of your lives, considering the strengths and weaknesses of each partner .
Marriage is full of peaks and valleys. Commitment is what gets us through tough times when it’s tempting to quit. Commitment says: “I’m in this for the long haul, and I’m not giving up!” It’s faith that tomorrow will be better.
Extending grace and receiving grace, are both vital components if long-term relationships are to succeed.
Why Most Relationships Fail
Most relationships peter out over time. A separation or divorce doesn’t come out of nowhere. Communication breakdowns, a lack of trust, and failure to resolve conflict are all issues that can be swept under the rug short-term, but over time are deal breakers if they’re not dealt with. The passionate flames of courtship eventually turn to fumes when a relationship is not nurtured.
Love can’t flourish in an environment of neglect and selfishness. Daily acts of kindness keep love alive, as does spending time together. The greatest gift you can give your partner is time. Time says: “You’re important to me!” Love is generous in both time and deed.
Relationships require work, dedication, and commitment. The failure to make marriage a priority is a likely sign the union won’t last. Your spouse is the most important person in your life, and should be treated accordingly. If your work, friends, hobbies, kids, or even religion, come first, your life won’t be all that it could be if your priorities were in line. Spouses come first, everything else is secondary.
Let’s Wrap It Up
A loving relationship bursting with acceptance, trust, communication, and forgiveness is what human hearts crave. We are wired for relationship. With divorce rates skyrocketing, clearly something isn’t working. In my opinion, the overarching issue is selfishness, and the inability to convey love to one’s partner. Divorce would be the last thing on a person’s mind who feels loved.
The time and effort it takes to nurture intimate relationships pays far greater dividends than the small daily efforts it requires. People are like plants; a loving environment of understanding, compassion, and unconditional love is what allows relationships to thrive rather than just survive.
Are you in a loving relationship? Are you longing to be in one? Please take the time to leave a comment or suggestion. It’s helps all those reading this post.