Ah, relationships. They run the gamut from exhilarating, passionate, and deeply intimate to combative, estranged, and hostile. For some of us, there are numerous and widely varying adjectives we would use to describe our current relationship. Since relationships consist of two inherently imperfect people who are continuing to learn and grow (preferably for the better), we are all bound to stumble at times, as will our partner.
So, how do we know if we’re in a healthy relationship?
And how do we go about improving the quality of our relationship?
Or knowing if the relationship isn’t right for us?
Healthy relationships contain many, if not all, of the following qualities:
- You recognize that the responsibility for your choices and actions lies within you, not your partner.
- You take good care of your own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
- You recognize that the responsibility for your partner’s choices and actions lies within him or her. You cannot change your partner, and thus you do not try to do so.
- While you communicate to your partner how you feel about his or her behavior, you relinquish control of the conversation’s outcome. You know the difference between a request and a demand. Thus, you do not insist that your partner conform to your every desire.
- You are willing to compromise and work for a solution that benefits both of you. You recognize that the two of you will not agree about everything.
- You communicate with kindness, honesty, and openness, and you do so on a regular basis. You can speak freely about sensitive subjects such as your sex life and finances.
- You can speak about problems without condemnation, criticism, defensiveness, or stonewalling. You are not harsh or vicious. You accept that disagreeing does not spell doom for your relationship, provided you communicate with respect and a genuine wish to understand your partner and work for the good of your relationship.
- You choose to trust your partner. You do not insist on checking your partner’s cell phone, email accounts, or other private methods of communication.
- You refrain from physical or emotional violence. You do not try to manipulate or intimidate your partner.
- You don’t expect your partner to be your Higher Power. You accept that your partner is only human.
- Your source of self-worth springs from within you. While you appreciate your partner’s supportive words and actions, you don’t rely on your partner to boost your self-esteem.
- You’re willing to admit it if you make a mistake or are mistaken about something.
- You forgive your partner and yourself when you trip up, yet you seek to improve where need be.
- You show your gratitude for your partner on a regular basis. You openly express appreciation, rather than rationalizing that your partner knows how you feel.
- You accept that love is a verb as well as an emotion, and you act accordingly.
- You show interest in your partner’s feelings and various projects, even those in which you don’t participate.
- You decide on important issues as a team.
- You regard your partner as being on your side, rather than as an adversary.
- You view changes in your relationship as natural and desirable, rather than feeling threatened.
- You accept each other unconditionally. [Note: physical or emotional abuse is the exception and is never acceptable.]
- You accept and celebrate your differences, recognizing that you are separate individuals and not identical in your perspectives and interests. You support one another’s individuality and do not need to be together (or connected via texting) 24/7.
- You cultivate your connections with friends and family, both as individuals and as a couple. Your relationship with your significant other does not crowd out your broader social support system.
- You realize that relationships are a work in progress and you’re willing to put in the effort. You continue to nurture your relationship on a continual basis, knowing that neglecting to do so would not bode well for you and your partner’s future together.
- You develop and maintain rituals that nurture your relationship in small and big ways, such as sharing a cup of coffee in the morning, putting aside an evening for a weekly date night, or going on a romantic getaway for your anniversary each year.
- You can relate to your partner on many levels, You can be silly, serious, playful, or romantic, according to what’s appropriate at the time.
- You know each other’s deepest wishes and needs, for the present and the future. You work together for your desired future.
- You try new things together. You don’t get stuck living on autopilot. You remain enthusiastic about your partner and life, knowing that learning can continue for a lifetime.
- Your relationship provides you and your partner with more happiness and positive moments than it does unhappiness or hardship.
Ultimately, a healthy relationship brings out the best in both of you. You are better together than apart, although each of you could stand alone, if need be. You choose to be, rather than have to be, together.