It’s easy to see what a bad relationship looks like. You’re probably surrounded with plenty of anti-models everyday. But what about those really functional relationships that stick in your mind?
We all have severely idealized versions of what happy and healthy relationships and marriages look like. Sometimes, if we look closely, some people are more attracted to those fantasy relationships in their minds than they are to their actual partners. During our formative years, we are socialized in many ways (through schooling, religious institutions, friends, media) to come up with our private version of a good and healthy relationship. No one grows up thinking their marriage will grow cold and distant over time (at least I haven’t heard that in therapy).
But, what does make for a health relationship? What are the marks of a truly healthy relationship? What am I missing? I’m interested to hear your comments, and your perspectives on your version of a healthy relationship.
Here’s 15 of the most important (not necessarily in order of importance):
- Communication, and ability to have conflict within a safe “container”
- Love and fulfilling sex life
- Fun and laughter
- Respect of your partner
- Trust in your partner
- Shared and common interests
- Similar ideas about how to construct
- Shared power
- Understanding about money and how it’s managed in the relationship
- Supportive and nurturing; validating for both people
- Mutual willingness to work together on relationship/marriage problems
- Similar “worldviews”, or ways to create shared experiences together
- Good handoff of time together, and time apart (some couples need more, others less)
Creating a healthy relationship takes a lot of willingness, hard work and mutual love and respect, and each relationship could be optimized in its own way. There are myriad ways to relationship success, and many of the roads to relationship health are unique to each relationship, as is the uniqueness of each person. Finding what works – and what doesn’t – for your own relationship is part of the journey of awareness and growth for yourself, your partner, and your relationship.