7 Earmarks of a Healthy, Lasting Relationship
By Cheryl Steinberg
People who are in healthy relationships understand that, at the heart of it, there is mutual respect and love. That is, respect and love for self, each other, and for the relationship. But there are other facets of healthy, long-lasting relationships.
Now, that isn’t to say that healthy relationships are completely problem-free. But, being armed with the knowledge of, and getting into the practice of, these healthy habits can certainly get you through the tougher times and build an even better relationship in the end.
Here’s a list of 7 earmarks of a healthy, lasting relationship:
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that thing didn’t happen.
Forgiving and forgetting are two separate things. And, while practicing forgiveness is an empowering – and mature – way to go about having any kind of relationship, the latter – to forget – is impossible. So, let’s start with that. You may not be able to forget a past transgression but, for your own sake and the sake of the relationship, you must be willing to forgive.
And that means not using something in the past as fodder for an argument or fight. If you’ve forgiven your partner, it’s not fair to continue to throw it in their face. If you just cannot get past something – perhaps being cheated on – then, it’s time to move. Otherwise, you will only torture yourself and your partner for the remainder of the relationship – which is doomed anyway.
- It won’t always be 50/50.
It’s true that relationships are about compromise and, while the more optimistic (read: head-in-the-clouds) type of person will say that it’s all about sharing everything evenly, the reality is that sometimes it’s 80/20…and that’s OK. What’s not OK is if this place of imbalance is the status quo of your relationship. Look, we all go through things that leave us sapped of our energy and even emotionally unavailable at times or else otherwise unable to be fully present in a relationship.
But, those who are in a healthy relationship understand this and know that, sometimes they need to give a bit more while their partner focuses on other things, whether it’s the job, a personal issue, a family matter, etc.
- Above all: Honesty.
Being in a healthy partnership means that it’s time to open up about yourself, even your boring daily comings and goings things. Not out of a “have to” or that your partner is controlling or overbearing (if they are, then this is not a healthy relationship, obviously) but, out of respect. You both have chosen to make this commitment and that means keeping each other informed. Being honest and communicative is at the heart of any good relationship.
You can still be independent. Just be open, too.
- The silent treatment is not a grown up way to handle things.
As mentioned above, with honesty also comes communication. People who are in healthy, long-term relationships understand that the key to the longevity of such a good relationship is communication.
Ignoring your partner when you are upset with them is childish and immature and will only breed resentment. This trend – the silent treatment – destroys more relationships than you might realize. Of course, if there is tension, you and/or your partner may need to head to your separate corners for a breather before discussing things. But that’s different from an all-out cold shoulder.
Being grown up and in a grown up relationship means being willing to get real and messy and real messy with the one you love. It boils down to how we handle those tension-filled moments that determines the health and happiness of our relationship. Ergo, you have to be willing to talk about what is bothering you, as icky as that might feel.
- Space will bring you closer.
People who consider their relationships to be healthy understand that a relationship is meant to add to your life, not become the be-all, end-all of their lives. So many times, people find someone they are interested in and that honeymoon phase kicks in; they drop their friends, their lives become wholly enmeshed. This can spell trouble for the relationship. It might be hot and heavy at first but, it might not have what it takes to last.
Being in a functional and healthy relationship means that there is an understanding that both parties each must have their own goals, pursuits, and passions. Having time away for ourselves to explore our own interests is a part of the human growth experience. And, besides, it’s way more attractive for someone to have their passions rather than being a clingy partner with seemingly no life of their own. Nothing is sexier than a man or woman who is passionate and capable of holding their own.
Wouldn’t you say?
- Humor and Laughter
This one’s a biggie for me. Maybe you’re not into having a sense of humor and it’s not a requirement of your perfect partner (although this is hard for me to understand) but, in either case, a healthy relationship is one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And by that I mean, the people in the relationship don’t take themselves too seriously.
Without a doubt, there is a need to find humor in our daily lives, relationships included. Being able to laugh at the funny, the mundane, the taboo, and even the serious stuff are great and healthy ways to find peace in the toughest situations.
As we’ve written about before, laughter is a form of medicine for the body, mind, and soul; there’s research to prove it! The act of laughter is, in itself, a form of meditation. And meditation is empowering and enlightening but, also a healthy way of dealing with anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. Scientists have measured the brain wave frequencies of people while they meditate, as well as of those while they find humor in a situation and what they found was that the brain wave frequencies in both settings closely resemble one another.
As long as both parties feel safe (and not overly judged or threatened), the simple act of injecting some humor can make it easier to talk about and deal with the heavy stuff.
- Setting – and keeping – realistic expectations
Having unrealistic expectations of your partner (or anyone) is the same as setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s liable to create friction, disrespect, conflict, and resentment and therefore will lead to creating an unhealthy relationship.
Substance abuse and addiction make it next to impossible to create loving, lasting relationships with others. Even though the person who uses thinks they are only hurting themselves, in reality, it is their loved ones who suffer the most. Most – if not all – relationships that involve substance abuse are not evenly matched and tend to be codependent in nature. If you’re ready to get your life back and improve your relationships, give us a call at toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today. It’s private, confidential, and professional. We are here 24/7 to answer your call.