Do you ever think about how the health of your relationship impacts the rest of your life?
When you are more intentional about your relationship, it becomes the learning laboratory for your personal evolution.
You learn relationship habits and skills that help you heal the past and move forward with more self-awareness, emotional maturity, and confidence.
As you both grow as individuals, your relationship will evolve past the heady intoxication of your early love to a more mature and satisfying intimacy.
But how do couples evolve past conflict, boredom, and disengagement to build a healthy relationship that stands the test of time?
Says international bestselling author, Jane Green, “I think the greatest gifts we can give each other in a relationship are the gifts of kindness and communication.” But is that enough?
Every relationship is unique, but some basic factors all healthy relationships must have are trust, intimacy, respect, and awareness.
I know it may be difficult to have all of these foundations of a good relationship every day, but it is critical for your relationship to be based on these factors.
For example, when it comes to physical intimacy, many couples feel they don't have the time for it, so they allow more and more time to elapse between sexual connections.
However, according to the American Psychological Association, couples need to schedule time in their busy schedules to be intimate with each other so this critical part of the relationship doesn't deteriorate.
An ongoing lack of intimacy can cause real damage to your closeness. But that's just one factor.
Not sure if you're in a healthy relationship? Take the couples quiz to get a better idea.
Before we get to the quiz, let's discuss exactly what a “healthy relationship” really is.
What one couple may consider being healthy, another may think is detrimental. But let's look at more common characteristics of all healthy relationships.
In a loving relationship, both partners offer support and feel supported.
Part of compatibility is encouraging and communicating with each other when one person needs some additional support. Happy relationships require building each other up, not knocking each other down.
You are there for each other, and create a protective “bubble” around your partner to show that you won't let him or her down.
Not only do you encourage one another but you cherish each other as well. As I mention in my book (with co-author Steve Scott), Mindful Relationship Habits, “When you cherish your partner, you view him or her as a treasure, someone you value so highly and care for so tenderly that you would never want to say or do anything to cause pain or harm. You view your partner as the most special person in the world.”
Even when your partner frustrates you or does something that pushes your buttons, you maintain the attitude of cherishing and supportiveness.
You don't allow these temporary challenges to undercut the trust and mutual support you've built to protect the bond between you.
Couples need boundaries.
It also involves a couple staying connected while still having a sense of independence. This requires two other major components of a good relationship — boundaries and communication.
Each partner in the relationship should have their own interests and passions that allow them to be an individual. Being a couple doesn't mean you lose who you are or what you enjoy doing on your own.
Having your own interests can make you more attractive to your partner and give you both the opportunity to expand your interests as you learn about your partner's unique interests.
Because every relationship is different, the people in the relationship determine what is good for them and each feels free to speak up if something doesn't feel right.
Read Related: Signs of An Unhealthy Relationship
Having boundaries shows self-respect and respect for your relationship. You don't set the stage for resentment and frustration by allowing your partner to say or do things that hurt, bother, or offend you.
You both feel free to communicate your boundaries and honor the boundaries of one another.
Boundaries are not set to trap you or confine you, but rather they are an expression of what makes you and your partner feel comfortable and respected.
How well do you communicate with your partner?
It is important to realize that effective communication involves more than just words. It involves empathic and active listening, positive body language, and learning conflict resolution skills.
You must be present for one another, asking good questions of each other without allowing distractions to pull you away.
You need to avoid passive-aggressive words, looks, and gestures and learn how to manage your anger so you don't say or do something during a conflict that could wound your partner.
There is an emotional component that is even more important for couples. This study looks at basic communication theory and provides a framework for teaching emotional communication skills to couples.
The advice from research suggests that effective communication between couples should be soft (not aggressive, contemptuous, or insulting; safe by creating an environment of mutual care and validation; inquisitive and positive (rather than alienating or isolating).
It is also important for each to show compassion for each other, no matter what you are going through at the time. This will help you stay connected and keep the lines of communication open.
What are the benefits of a healthy love relationship?
Working to improve your relationship shouldn't feel like a chore. There are dozens of compelling reasons why you should treat your relationship like a prized garden and tend to it every day.
You will not only strengthen your relationship, but you'll discover many personal benefits as well.
If you are in a loving relationship, it means that you have respect for both yourself and your partner. This respect allows you live free from undue stress, in a harmony with the person you love and enjoy.
Read Related: Relationship Goals To Nurture And Protect Your Bond
You put the relationship ahead of petty annoyances or selfish demands because you both believe your “couple-ness” shouldn't be undermined. A strong couple makes for secure and confident individual partners.
Having a solid relationship also allows you to celebrate accomplishments and successes with your partner rather than resorting to contempt or competition. You are on each other's team and see your partner's wins as your wins.
When your connection is strong, you have a clear vision for your future together, making the necessary compromises and adjustments along the way without difficulty.
With clear mutual goals, you can work together to achieve them and know that your beloved has your back as he or she reassures and encourages you to succeed.
Best of all, research shows that couples in a happy, committed relationship tend to be healthier and live longer than those who aren't in a solid relationship.
In addition to these compelling reasons, being in a healthy relationship can . . .
- Lower your stress levels as you have someone to share the challenges of life.
- Have a great sense of purpose and feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself.
- Boost your overall happiness levels, according to studies.
- Inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle (if your partner is healthy).
- Help you sleep better, according to studies.
- Serve as a protective barrier against depression.
The Couples Quiz To Take Together
Having self-awareness about the health of your relationship is a critical factor in strengthening your bond.
You can't know what to improve unless you face the issues in your relationship squarely. Being self-aware means that you are able to take an honest look at how you behave and carefully examine your strengths and weaknesses.
This quiz will give you a snapshot of your intimate relationship and whether or not it is on solid footing. You may already have some ideas about this, but the quiz will help you see the areas where your relationship needs the most attention.
It's best if you and your partner or spouse take the quiz together, but even if you take it alone, you'll get valuable insights into what you need to do to strengthen your connection.
If you find areas you need to work on and improve, don't worry that the relationship is in trouble or you're headed for a split.
It's perfectly normal for couples to go through periods of disconnection and discord.
Most love relationships do stall or falter after the initial infatuation phase. This is the time when irritations with your partner start to show up, and your own insecurities and past wounds seep through the perfect facade you presented to one another in early days.
Couples who find themselves stuck in a cycle of hurt feelings, blame, anger, reactivity — or simply boredom and apathy — do have a path forward.
It is possible to find a way back to the loving, fun, sexy, intimate relationship they once shared.
Now that you're aware of where your relationship needs work, you can begin the process of learning new ways to support, love and cherish one another.
If you took the quiz, you'll receive additional information from me that will help you take action on the areas you need to improve in your relationship.
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