Build on these six healthy habits for a strong and long-lasting relationship with your partner.
Covid has been a wake-up call. We’ve all had to reexamine what’s important to us. And ultimately, it’s the people around us and our relationships that matter most. But what makes a healthy romantic relationship? And how do you know if you’re in one? Here are some tips for a solid relationship that’s truly #couplegoals.
6 signs of a healthy relationship
Trust takes time to build. It’s based on surviving trials and tribulations, knowing the other person has your back. With trust, you can lean on and towards each other, feel safe to open up, and be emotionally vulnerable.
What happens when trust is broken?
It’s wise to take time to reflect on what happened and how to rebuild trust. Think about whether there’s been any misalignment or miscommunication around expectations and boundaries. It might be useful to call on a neutral and trained third party like a counsellor to facilitate this dialogue if both of you aren’t able to discuss things without getting heated.
You might be wondering why your partner can’t be completely honest with you. Some people just find it difficult to offer honesty when they feel triggered or threatened – think about the fight, flight or freeze mentality. Lies, blatant or otherwise, can be linked to our human tendency to protect ourselves. This pattern can be unconsciously inherited from our family of origin.
What happens when lies are exposed?
Document the circumstances, call your partner out without being accusatory and express your desire for the complete truth. Change can only happen if they recognise their tendency to lie and desire the freedom of being completely authentic with you. Discuss the possibility of them doing their own personal development with a trained therapist – in this case, perhaps a systemic family therapist can delve into family patterns.
3. Mutual respect
When you respect each other’s independence, privacy and space, you’re able to make your own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and you can share in decision-making.
What happens when you feel disrespected?
Respect begets respect. You need to regard yourself in a positive manner for someone else to respect you. Do you carry yourself as a person of integrity? If your partner disrespects you by talking over you, interrupting you or belittling you, it’s important to stand up for yourself. Point it out gently, seek understanding and express your preferred behaviour from them.
4. Open communication
Interwoven with trust, honesty and respect, open communication involves understanding one another and feeling safe to share your thoughts and feelings… even if the other person might not necessarily agree.
What happens when communication breaks down?
Miscommunication can often lead to hurt feelings, emotional withdrawal and even a communication shutdown. Get feedback from your partner or trusted ones on your body language and your ability to speak, listen and reflect empathy. Working through conflicts and disagreements together is a good sign of your ability to communicate. Becoming a skilled communicator comes with awareness and practice.
This involves each side making concessions – compromise and negotiation are part of any relationship. However, when you look a little closer, in certain situations it can be a lose-lose for both parties and may not bode well.
What happens when there’s too much compromise?
Recognise that if one person is always compromising, they might lose their identity over time. Examples include even small things like letting them decide what to cook, where to go and what to do because they’re more particular or picky. Being in a relationship involves allowing each other to maintain your sense of self. Yes, you consult each other on major decisions, but sometimes, a seemingly win-lose situation may be a better option. Find your middle ground as a team.
6. Physical intimacy
Yes, I’m talking about outer play and sex! Great sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. Physical satisfaction activates feel-good hormones and facilitates bonding and closeness. It’s usually more important for one person, but there’s no golden rule around how often a couple should have sex as long as both sides feel like their needs are met.
What happens when physical intimacy is a struggle?
When physical intimacy is missing (and it can be due to all kinds of reasons), talk about it. Perhaps there’s a specific cause like a low sex drive or vaginal dryness. So, seek out solutions as a team. Look for external support if the issue isn’t resolved and it’s causing distress beyond six months.
Are these qualities of a healthy relationship making you do some soul-searching? Go ahead and discuss it all with your partner. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, but you can focus on strengthening yours together.