3 Keys To A Healthy Relationship
BY SARAH CLARK
As many of you have discovered through your own experiences, there are many factors which must be incorporated into your interactions in order to have a healthy relationship. Our connections can suffer if we are unaware or inattentive to these essential relationship qualities.
3 Keys To Healthy Relationships
This seems like a simple one. However, it is a trait missing in many relationships. Think about your relationships, both current and past. Can you truly say that you had a deep and all encompassing respect for your partner? This is a vital component. If you respect who your partner is as a person, then you will have faith in them, admire their successes, have compassion for their failures, and value their efforts in all things.
If that respect is not there, then it will present itself in different ways; mistrust, annoyances, communication problems, secrecy, disregarding feelings and input, repetitive arguments, and on and on. Value yourself and your partner enough to truly look at who they are and whether or not you respect them for those qualities you’ve discovered. If there are areas in which a lack of respect is uncovered, it can be addressed and potentially resolved.
Communication is a very broad topic. There are endless facets and nuances. However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s break it down to positive and negative communication. The most basic barometer to identify positive and negative communication is how both people feel afterwards. If you walk away from a discussion feeling as bad or worse than you did before the interaction occurred, then something about the encounter was negative. If both people feel better, happier, and clearer at the end of a conversation then you count it as a positive. Positives and negatives do not have the same value.
One negative interaction with a couple can cancel out several positives. So, it is extremely important that a couple’s attempts to communicate are primarily positive. It is much easier for people to identify facets of negative communication because we usually have an automatic negative response when one occurs. Some of the most common negative communication styles/strategies include shutting down and stonewalling, criticizing, not listening, interrupting, getting defensive, showing disdain or contempt, mocking or condescending, changing subjects or terminating the conversation prematurely, or jumping to suggestions without asking if that is the goal of the conversation. All of us have experienced these on numerous occasions and can easily pick up on them when they occur.
The positive communication styles/strategies are harder for most people to identify. Many people have never observed or experienced truly positive communication. The good news is that learning positive communication strategies can be approached in the same way as learning any new skill. Healthy communication skills can be learned from books and other independent resources, support/life skills groups, individual/couples counseling, or a combination of these methods. Some of the primary strategies used in positive communication are active listening, showing interest, reflecting, sympathizing/empathizing, using “I” statements and feeling words, being supportive, asking for clarity, and using positive body language. These strategies along with a positive intent towards your interactions will not only build a healthier relationship, but will help you with solving problems and making sure that your own needs are being met.
People are constantly growing and changing. The question is whether or not you and your partner choose to make the effort to grow together or gradually grow apart. Change and growth are not simply things that happen to us.
We either choose how we change with conscious intent, or let our thoughts shape us without putting forth effort or having a goal or end point in mind. In order to ensure that you and your partner continue to grow together, you simply have to make that your conscious intent. That means, factoring them into your plans, asking for their input, involving them in some way, and putting as much time and effort into maintaining and improving the relationship as you would with anything else. People tend to grow apart when they take the relationship for granted.
They think that their partner will always be there and love them no matter what. So, they make unilateral decisions, don’t make time for each other, ignore relationship problems, and let the relationship get put on the back burner. When you no longer make the relationship a priority, you will begin to notice negative changes or realize one day that the two of you have drifted apart. Luckily, making the conscious decision to grow together is simple.
Have regular date nights, learn something new together, do couples activities, involve your partner in your activities/interests in some way, make an effort to learn something new about your partner, involve them when setting goals, and do things for each other that show the relationship and the person are a priority. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, there are activity books for couples and lists of “get to know you” questions to help you get started.
I challenge you to take a hard look at your relationships, and have the courage to identify if any of these components are missing. The 3 keys outlined above have the potential to make or break a relationship. However, if you identify a potential problem area, and you are willing to work to make positive changes, you will get positive results.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.clarkcounselingsolutions.com
Image credit Abe Khamis. Copyright 2016: All rights reserved.