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Characteristics of healthy relationships

Ever asked yourself what does a healthy relationship look like? What do I need to do to improve my relationship? Well look no further. This article highlights some very important characteristics of healthy relationships. Keep in mind that, it is not possible to master these things all at once. Just like physical health it’s not a one and done affair, and one must continue to strive to be healthy, the same goes for a healthy relationship. It is a gradual and continuous process, that varies with different life circumstances. It may take days or years before one begins to feel confident about some of these, but the important thing is to keep trying and keep working at building a healthy relationship. 

Honesty and Openness

There is no doubt that in a lot of relationships there are things that couples keep from each other.  We believe that it is impossible to let someone know everything that goes on in your head, everything that you have done or intend to do. However it is very important that when you decide to enter into a lifelong partnership with someone, you try to be as honest as you can be with them. In other words, the highest level of honesty with an individual, needs to exist in the context of a marriage. Honesty and openness are among the top characteristics of a healthy relationship. When you are honest, you engender trust. Thus your partner knows they can count on what you say as the truth.  

Trust

Many of us have heard the statement “Without trust, we have nothing.” This is usually said within the context of a relationship. Especially in the context of marriage, lack of trust is breeding ground for many marital issues, including total breakdown of the relationship. Trust is fostered by honesty, openness and faithfulness.  You can also foster trust by giving it first. Some behavioral scholars say that, a person who feels trusted is more likely to act in truthful and faithful ways, as opposed to a person who feels that his or her actions are consistently questioned.  Not however that it isn’t fair to ask your partner for trust, if you repeatedly carry out actions that do not nurture it. When broken, trust can be quite difficult to build back. Nevertheless, conscious behavioral change, usually with the help of a counselor, can help fix things. We definitely consider it to be one of the high ranking characteristics of a healthy relationship. 

Mutual respect

Respect is definitely among the important characteristics of healthy relationships because, it validates your partner’s importance in your life. Respecting a person communicates that you regard them, what they have to say and how they feel. Because the couple is seen as a primary unit or primary foundation of a the family, when a couple has mutual respect for each other, it is exhibited and passed on to children and others around the couple. Simple things like remembering to say please, thank you and I’m sorry, are vital expressions of respect in a relationship; no matter how long you have been together. Other ways of showing respect to your partner include running important decisions, and even sometimes small ones by them. Couples should actively avoid using insults during arguments. Even in anger, respect can be given and expected. 

Compromise

This is one of the most difficult things to do in any relationship, hence why it is among the significant characteristics of healthy relationships that we chose to write about. Often times self-interest takes the front stage of most relationships, making giving up certain things difficult. Compromise involves letting go, sacrificing your self-interest for that of your partner, for the overall benefit of the relationship. Some people see compromise as losing to another. However in a marriage, anything that leads to the betterment of that relationship it’s a win-win for both parties. One way is to ask oneself, “Do I want to win or do I need us to win?” Couples must take heed that, dissatisfaction sets in when one party appears to compromise a lot more than the other. A healthy balance of compromise is required for a healthy relationship. Often times, compromise can be achieved through healthy communication.

Healthy Communication

Healthy communication is at the center of the success of every relationship, especially a marriage. It is actually the most important of the characteristics of healthy relationships, because nothing can be done without some form of communication! Partners tend to differ in communication style, although in some cases, couples have similar communication styles. *Communication styles and interpretation of messages are influenced by one’s upbringing and experiences. This means that when two people come together to communicate, there is a whole history of interactions influencing that exchange.*  With this in mind, partners can begin to appreciate the fact that they need to negotiate what communication will look like in the context of their relationship. It is more than likely that your partner cannot read your mind. Thus you should share ones ideas, concerns, fears, expectations, likes and dislikes, etc. Avoid operating under the fallacy of “they should know”. A significant part of communication that most people take for granted is listening; not waiting to respond but truly listening to your partner. People miss very important cues and messages because of their inability to genuinely listen. There are many resources available online that couples can make use of, to help improve communication in a relationship. Counseling is also another resource that couples can use to help improve relational communication.

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