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 certain characteristics. Here are 10 signs you’re in 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.
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? Let me know in the comments:)
22 thoughts on “10 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship”
I agree with your list, but in my opinion trust ranks right up there as a top characteristic of a healthy relationship. Forgiveness is important, but to an extent. There’s only so much forgiving someone can do before enough is enough. But then again, if a partner is constantly doing the same thing over and over again and asking for forgiveness, then this boils down to lack of respect, if that makes sense?
Trust, respect and compassion are all crucial to a healthy relationship.
Great point. Yes, forgiveness is important, but so is setting boundaries. Like you said, you can only forgive so many times without seeing substantial change. Expecting forgiveness from a significant other without them putting in the hard work to make necessary changes isn’t sustainable long term and will lead to the demise of the relationship. I agree with you, respect is an integral part of forgiveness.
Thank you for your comment!
Thank you very much. This is a great subject for an article. It’s important to know the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship. I think one of the most important things that will indicate that you’re in a healthy relationship is that you feel safe. You would feel safe if the person is nice to you and cares about you.
Another good sign of a healthy relationship definitely has to do with not being codependent. I’m not sure the exact way to say it, but being you’re own person, and not being overly dependent on how someone else acts or feels. Like you’re not glued to the other person, but you can enjoy each other’s company.
And of course feeling like you can be yourself, feeling accepted by the other person. I hope that more people find your article because I only recently learned about healthy relationships in my early twenties and I never even knew about them up until then. So I’m sure your article will help lots of people.
Thank you. I think it’s an important topic too because many people know they’re unhappy on some level, but don’t realize that they’re in an unhealthy relationship. Feeling safe is so essential. Without that component, a relationship won’t be nurturing to the people in it.
Codependence is a significant issue in relationships, with many people not seeing themselves as codependent, when in fact they are, and that they’re basing their own happiness on another person. The purpose of relationships isn’t to make us happy, although they can certainly augment our happiness.
Relationships thrive when people can genuinely be themselves, along with feeling loved, accepted and safe, all critical factors of a healthy, thriving relationship. I appreciate your comment.
That’s an optimistic and great post. I’m married to a wonderful woman and we have a 2-year-old infant. We love each other and we have a healthy family. Our relationship is honest and true. Οf course there will be times of tension but with mature dialogue and discussion, they are tackled and never left unopposed.
Respect and trust prevail. I am proud that our child is growing up in such a climate and this is reflected in his behavior because he is a sweet and kind child who does not grumble without reason and listens to what we say. Τhank you for reminding me how wonderful and loving my relationship is.
Thank you. I’m so happy to hear you’re in a happy relationship. What a blessing for both of you and your child. Honesty and trust are so important and in short supply today. Every relationship has some conflict, which is normal, it’s how that conflict is handled that matters.
What a blessing for your child to grow up in such a loving environment. Always cherish your relationships!
I agree with you on this one. Everything you’ve picked out in this post is really important in having a healthy relationship. Someone once told me that a partner who cannot be committed is not ready for a relationship. In the same vein, trust and communication is what keeps one going in a relationship.
Most of the relationships that fail are due to lack of communication. I am in a really hot relationship right now and we love each other so much, maybe soon, I’ll tie the knot☺
Thank you for reading. Commitment is key for a relationship to work. I agree with you that if someone is not willing to commit, or is too immature to commit, they aren’t ready to be in a serious and loving relationship. I think trust and commitment go together and when these components are strong in a relationship, good communication will naturally follow because each partner will feel safe enough to share.
I’m so glad you’re in a great relationship. Nurture it with everything you have!
Hi, your post is the most unique post because it deals with emotion, when two are in love its always sweet and beautiful.
Divorce is skyrocketing in our society, which is so sad. If people would abide by your advice in your post, people would stay together more often, Trust, accountability, forgiveness, and communication are all so crucial.
I will be sharing your post on my social media because it is very important, and if everyone who is thinking about divorce right now can read your post, he or she will have a change of heart and mind.
Your post is really helpful.
Thanks for reading my post and for sharing it on social media.Emotion is an important topic, and one that isn’t discussed often enough, in my opinion. After all, all of us are in relationships. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could all be accountable for our actions and forgive others when they sincerely apologize. The world would certainly be a more harmonious and happy place!
Unfortunately, I just went through a divorce of a 20 year long relationship about 7 months ago. So many things that you mentioned in your article were missing. I was never allowed to be my own person but had to mold myself into what my husband expected (nay, DEMANDED) me to be. When any disagreement came up, all of my faults from the past were dredged up and used against me. It became a very abusive relationship but it happened so gradually that I didn’t even realize what was happening.
A good relationship takes a lot of work and if each person puts the time and effort into each point you raise, it can work. I especially related to the last two points of being your own person, but also accepting that your spouse is also their own person. Use these differences as strengths rather than a cause for constant bickering. Respect in a relationship can quickly turn to contempt when the issues you brought up are not followed. I am now 52 and am trying to figure out who the heck I really am now. I hope that many people see your article and take it to heart!
I’m so sorry to hear about the breakup of your relationship. My heart goes out to you. You must have been miserable for years. It’s not right, or fair, or acceptable in any measure for a spouse to demand something from their partner. Respect goes out the window, and abuse often creeps in, and like you said, relationships can go down hill gradually, until one day you wake up and realize that something is so desperately wrong. I hope your heart is healing, and you are on the path back to yourself.
Relationships take so much work, at least consistent work, with both partners working equally hard, and accepting their spouse as a unique individual with their own thoughts, feelings, and desires. We’re all different, and it’s this fact that can make relationships so beautiful and complementary. How boring would it be if we were all alike?!
Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!
Wow, these are all equally important and is a great checklist to have to keep the health of a relationship in check. What I value the most out of the ten you mentioned is number 7. Without trust and forgiveness, a relationship may wither, and pretty soon, other problems will eventually surface.
Trust, when it implies faithfulness, removes any doubt you may have about your partner, and forgiveness is related to compassion and empathy because the inability to empathize and be compassionate with your partner will make forgiving difficult.
Awesome points Ron. I like number 7 too. A relationship is doomed to fail without trust and forgiveness. They are so foundational and essential. Compassion and empathy are also vital. Without them, there’s no way a relationship can thrive, or even begin for that matter.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
Thank you for this amazing post. I have questioned myself a lot of times about the decisions I make in my relationship. Am I solving problems appropriately? Or will I regret my decisions later on? The question of whether or not I’m in a happy relationship popped into my head while reading your article. Thanks for making me be introspective.
This is a really great guide and one of the best I’ve read. I feel I have just passed through a counseling class and it’s the kind that is worth a million bucks. Kudos and looking forward to more great information.
Thanks so much for reading my article. That’s good that you’re questioning your decisions. That shows that you have self-awareness and accountability, two indispensable components of a healthy relationship. Not every one can self-reflect.
I’m really glad you found my post helpful. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Your article caught my eye, although it has to be said, I was slightly apprehensive going in, so to speak. I was unsure how many of the ten tips I would be able to honestly say I was adhering to.
Final verdict was a pleasant one, there’s room for improvement on my part, but overall I didn’t fare too badly, phew. I think much of that has to do with being with your ‘soul mate’ for want of a better, less cliched, description. It is true to say though, that I could not be how I am were it not for how my wife is. I guess that works both ways.
Another attribute that we are thankful for and that you touched upon, is making sure the relationship is ‘fair’. For many years I was the one going out everyday to work, sometimes for weeks on end without time off. My wife would have the ‘home’ responsibilities, yet we would share as much as we could.
Ironically, now the roles have been reversed and I am a full-time ‘House husband’ thus allowing my wife to fulfill her own career choices. Again we still share the responsibilities where we can. I think this change of events has enabled us to become closer as we now both appreciate each others viewpoint when it comes to work and home.
Something as simple as having a bath run for when the other returns home can put a smile on their face and help to take away the stresses of the day. Relationships are most definitely a two way street and we should never take each other for granted. Twenty two years of marriage with no qualms of another twenty two is proof that it can work if you both try. We should all try to make sure we’re aware of the ‘signs’
Awesome comment. Thank you! It sounds like you have an amazing relationship with your wife. Yes, playing fair is critical, whereas, playing unfair will degrade the relationship over time. Whether just the husband or wife works outside the home or just one does, it’s important to share household responsibilities.
So interesting that you’re now a house husband and your wife is out in the workforce. You both know what the other has experienced, which leads to understanding and compassion for the other is going through.
It is the little things and small consistencies that can make a big difference in a relationship. Marriage is most definitely a two way street. Congratulations on 22 years of marriage. Good for you and thanks so much for reading!
Thanks for this informative article, indeed every one deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. Many times I ask myself the question, how do I know I’m in a healthy relationship, and these tips have really helped me.
Although I can’t check off all the boxes for a healthy relationship, the elements you have listed have helped me a lot, and I’ll keep following these steps until I’ve perfected them.
Thanks so much for reading. I think we should all ask ourselves periodically, whether or not our relationships are as healthy as we’d like them to be. And if not, to diligently work on them to make them the best they can be.
Thanks for this this educational post. Most relationships fail because they refuse to live by these tips you have listed in this post. Clash of interest and inability to show one’s partner they are truly important can also lead to unhealthy relationships. I believe adhering to this tips will hold any relationship together for a long time.
Yes, I think any relationship can flourish if people take these tips seriously. Thanks so much for reading!