The signs of a good relationship aren't always easy to spot in the early phase of a love affair.
Just because the sex is amazing or you both love to travel doesn't mean your relationship is healthy or strong.
Healthy relationships involve commitment, self-awareness, and empathy. They require ongoing nurturing, forgiveness, and open communication.
But these things don't happen overnight. A good relationship is a work in progress — a daily undertaking that you both honor willingly.
Of course, we enter a love relationship initially because, well, we fall in love. And attached to those powerful, chemically-driven feelings are the more practical desires for companionship, emotional intimacy, and a sense of belonging and security.
Being in a relationship is a good thing. People who are in a committed relationship live longer, are happier in general and tend to accumulate more wealth. But if that's the case, why are relationships so difficult? Why do we argue, belittle, and disengage from the one person we're supposed to love most?
Is Your Relationship Healthy?
You go through extensive training to drive a car and spend years in school to prepare for a career, but there is no expected or required training when it comes to the most important part of our lives — our love relationship.
No one teaches you how to be a good partner and how to nurture the health of the relationship. Most of us jump in like blind fools, certain that love will conquer all.
If you're lucky, you had good role models in your parents. But even so, your particular relationship has its own nuances, issues, and unsightly bumps. Once the initial infatuation wears off of a new relationship, you are left with few skills to navigate those bumps and maintain the vitality and joy of the connection.
Over time, many couples wind up in their separate corners, scowling at each other from a distance. This certainly isn't what you thought would happen when you first stared at him or her across the room and your heart melted.
The relationship itself is a living, breathing thing that you must nurture and care for daily — above your own individual needs or frustrations. If you want your relationship to work, you both must work on your relationship. It can't be a one-sided relationship, and it can't be neglected.
- Is Your Relationship Healthy?
- Here are 15 signs of a good relationship:
- 1. You make the relationship your top priority.
- 2. You communicate openly and regularly.
- 3. You create emotional intimacy.
- 4. You create sexual intimacy.
- 5. You spend time together.
- 6. You speak kindly.
- 7. You are affectionate with each other.
- 8. You inspire and support each other to be better.
- 9. You accept each other for who you are.
- 10. You like each other.
- 11. You quickly heal any rifts.
- 12. You look for ways to show your love.
- 13. You practice active listening.
- 14. You give each other space.
- 15. You have fun together.
- This is how a relationship should be.
Here are 15 signs of a good relationship:
So what does a healthy relationship look like? If can differ from couple to couple, but there are some universal elements that in all real relationships that are happy, healthy, and strong.
1. You make the relationship your top priority.
There is no doubt, your marriage or partnership is THE most valuable part of your life. If it's not, it should be. It should come before your work, hobbies, extended family, and yes — even before your children.
As a couple, you are the centerpiece of your family, and if the couple isn't strong, the family isn't strong.
Both partners MUST be committed to putting the relationship as their top life priority. This can't be just empty words.
You and your partner should reinforce and demonstrate this commitment in your daily, even hourly, efforts to keeping the relationship healthy and thriving.
2. You communicate openly and regularly.
You make it a habit to check in with each other every day or every few days to get a pulse on your connection.
Both people feel safe and free to express concerns, disappointments, and frustrations, and both of you feel motivated to find resolution or seek compromise when necessary.
You each express your feelings kindly and directly, without using passive aggressive behaviors, manipulation, or stonewalling. You don't hold things back or shove them under the rug to avoid confrontation.
In fact, confrontation isn't part of your communication style. You feel compelled to get things back on track because of your love for each other and your deep value of the relationship itself.
3. You create emotional intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is the closeness you share together. You feel free and secure to express your fears and vulnerabilities without being shamed or demeaned.
You have a high level of trust, transparency, and openness between you based on your love for each other and the years of shared experiences.
Emotionally intimate couples can share their deepest selves and are able to express the depth of their feelings for one another. In this context, each person feels wholly accepted, respected, and worthy in the eyes of their partner.
Emotional intimacy can be fostered by becoming more familiar with your own feelings, needs, fears, and desires. You must be self-aware in order to be intimate with another person.
Emotional intimacy also requires that you spend quality time together, away from daily stress and distractions.
4. You create sexual intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is the foundation for a healthy sexual relationship, and the combination creates a deep bond between two people.
When you have emotional intimacy, you are free to express what you desire sexually — and you are free to give fully to the other person.
Sex is not just a physical pleasure or release but rather an expression of your deep love and closeness. Emotional intimacy makes room for play, exploration, and complete safety in the bedroom.
You can still have sexual experiences with each other that are primarily physical, but you can do so with the security of the deep emotional connection you share.
More Related Articles:
5. You spend time together.
You can't nurture the relationship without spending time together. This time is more than just being in the same house or spending time together with children.
You need to prioritize time for just the two of you. You need the space to enjoy each other's company, to share interests and experiences, and to have fun.
Many relationships fall apart because the partners are basically living separate lives. Each person has their own interests and obligations, and they don't make time to be together.
They allow the demands of life to fill their hours, and then over time, realize they have nothing in common and very little to say to one another.
If you don't share common interests, develop some that you can enjoy together. Or step out of your comfort zone and engage in one of your partner's interests. Don't allow work, children, or other distractions to take precedence over this important time for the two of you.
6. You speak kindly.
What words and tone of voice do you use with your spouse or partner? Do you sound detached, irritated, sarcastic, or demeaning?
If you cherish this person, then speak to him or her in ways that reflect that. It's so easy to take the other person for granted and to lash out at them when we're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If you do this enough, your words create deep wounds and undermine the intimacy of the relationship.
Always speak kindly to the person you love. Do so even if they speak unkindly to you. Your words have more power than you can possibly imagine.
7. You are affectionate with each other.
Non-sexual touch like hugging, holding hands, kissing, and cuddling is vital to a healthy relationship.
Studies have shown that couples who enjoy regular physical affection tend to be happier and more satisfied with their relationship. They also recover more quickly from conflict.
Even if you aren't completely comfortable with affection, practice being more affectionate with your partner. Make a point to connect physically several times a day.
Over time, you'll feel more affectionate and create a deeper emotional bond with your partner.
8. You inspire and support each other to be better.
You offer this support not just in your words but in your actions. You show your spouse that you want them to succeed. You help them reach their goals and dreams, and you certainly don't undermine a goal that your partner has because of your jealously or indifference.
Each person profoundly wants the best for the other and lovingly challenges the other to reach their full potential. You see the positive qualities in one another and reflect them. You don't try to diminish each other or focus on flaws or past mistakes.
9. You accept each other for who you are.
You know this person inside and out. You've seen their strengths and weaknesses. You know their personality and behaviors. You see your spouse or partner as an individual worthy of your respect and acceptance — not as a reflection of you or an extension of your ego.
You don't try to change who they are or how they operate in the world. You may request behavior changes or negotiate priorities or decisions, but you never try to control or mold the person into who you think they should be.
10. You like each other.
Solid, healthy relationships are grounded in friendship. You simply like this person you live with. You enjoy their company. You have things to talk about. You laugh together. You make plans together.
You are honestly able to say that not only is this person your lover, life partner, and co-parent — he or she is your best friend.
11. You quickly heal any rifts.
Should a relationship be easy all the time to be good? Of course not. There aren't any perfect relationships.
Disagreements and hurt feelings are inevitable even in the best relationships. But it's how you handle those rifts that make the difference in a solid connection and one that's on rocky ground.
You may need to wait until your anger simmers down, and you're both able to communicate calmly. But as soon as possible after a conflict, you come back together to discuss the problem, express your needs, and find a solution.
You never sweep a problem under the rug or wait for days (or weeks) to heal the discord between you.
12. You look for ways to show your love.
It's easy to become complacent with your partner once the initial infatuation phase has ended. The flowers stop coming and the little love notes no longer appear in your briefcase.
Once you feel secure in your commitment to each other, you allow these little niceties to fall by the wayside. But now more than ever is the time to up your game and show your partner how much you love him or her.
Complacency leads to boredom and feelings of resentment. Resentment can lead to loss of respect and intimacy. Continue to infuse your connection with creative gestures of appreciation and affection to keep it fresh and exciting.
13. You practice active listening.
How many times have you and your partner had a conversation where one or both of you is looking at your phone or otherwise distracted?
During a conflict, how often are you thinking of the point you want to make while your partner is sharing theirs?
Active listening requires more than just hearing your partner's words. It involves listening with empathy — putting yourself in your partner's shoes and trying to view the situation from his or her point of view.
Reflecting to your partner what you understood him or her to say and the meaning behind the words is also part of this type of listening. You validate and affirm that you really heard what was said without defensiveness or argument.
In casual conversation, it means putting down your phone (or any other distraction), looking at your partner, and engaging with him or her about the topic.
14. You give each other space.
Because you're a couple doesn't mean you are no longer individuals with your own needs, interests, and boundaries.
A healthy, easy relationship is one where both people respect and honor the selfhood of the other. You may each have different needs when it comes to having your space, but you work together to find a balance that works for you both.
A relationship that is clingy or needy isn't healthy. Both people need to feel confident in themselves and comfortable with independence — which in turn makes the relationship fresher and more interesting when you are together.
15. You have fun together.
Life is serious business so much of the time. Between work, kids (if you have them), politics, and bad news, it can be hard to carve out the time or energy for fun.
But remember when you were first dating and how much fun you had together? You didn't care what else was going on in the world or in your own lives. You just wanted to be together and laugh.
Fun may not be as spontaneous as it once was, but healthy couples make the time for it. You don't have to plan an elaborate outing. Pick up a couple of water pistols and go at it. Or put on some music and dance in your kitchen.
If you're laughing and enjoying yourselves, it's good for your intimacy and connection.
This is how a relationship should be.
We've listed the ideal signs of a healthy relationship, but we're not suggesting perfection. You see how a relationship should be, but getting there takes time and commitment.
As you review these 15 signs of a good relationship, think carefully about your own marriage or partnership and how healthy it is.
- Where do you see you and your partner in each of these qualities or behaviors?
- What can you do to improve your connection and intimacy?
Invite your spouse to read this article, and discuss the points together. Brainstorm changes you both want to make to improve your relationship.
Remember, it requires both people to be committed to the health of the relationship in order for it to thrive.
If your partner resists, or if you feel resistant to improving the connection, then it might be time to visit a relationship counselor to help you navigate any issues between you and to create a plan for making your relationship stronger, closer, and happier.