I often write about common problems within a relationship and how to solve these. In this article, I am going to give a brief overview on what positive traits I see in individuals which may help with a long-term healthy relationship.
There are obviously many aspects of a relationship that can help keep it healthy. After working with hundreds of couples over the years, these are seven things I regularly see in healthy relationships.
- Kindness – if you and your partner are naturally kind, then that will come through in your relationship. Think about people you know, friends, family, work colleagues. Now you may like a lot of these people, but which of them would you label as ‘kind’?
We can all be kind at times, but there are those people who are naturally kind most of the time. Doesn’t make them perfect, just kind. When we talk about kind, we are referring to someone who is gentle, caring and helpful. We can all be kind at times, but are we kind most of the time?
When I meet couples where both people are kind, or kind a lot of the time, I see how easily they can work together. Kindness allows them to listen more easily to problems. It means they want to try and please their partner more. It means they are more naturally inclined to try and make their partner happy according to their partner’s needs.
Kindness is a big indicator to me that a relationship can work well over the longer term. It is not something that can generally be taught but we can certainly practice this skill.
- Accommodating – this is probably in a similar vein to kindness but what I mean by this is that we naturally allow for both our partners needs and faults. Couples who are accommodating will promote their partner doing things for themselves. Things like going out with their friends or enjoying their hobbies.
They will also be more accepting of faults and minor differences. This is really important in a relationship. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ is a perfect saying in a relationship and can go a long way in helping to keep a relationship healthy.
We can accommodate both our partners needs and faults in a relationship which helps to keep it running smoothly.
We can learn to be more accommodating in our relationships if we choose to work at this.
- Good Communication – many people think they are great communicators, but being able to talk and being an effective communicator are two different things. Good communication includes having the ability to not only listen, but to understand the message being sent. This involves watching facial expressions, body language, listening to tone and then putting it all together.
This alone is a skill in itself and many people will believe that they listen well. Often, they are forming their response, or, imagining they know where the conversation is going. Listening with both open ears and an open mind is important. Having this skill helps couples to manage differences and needs within the relationship effectively.
Couples that feel really ‘heard’ by their partner will feel verbal and often emotional intimacy in their relationship. Having these forms of intimacy is vital to individual happiness of each partner and therefore the success of the relationship.
Communication is most definitely a learnt skill. It can be learnt at any age so if you don’t have this, you can start learning today.
- Healthy Conflict- Every relationship is going to have some differences. How we navigate these can have a huge impact on the health of the relationship. Couples who don’t resolve issues or who hurt each other in the process with unkind words or gestures, will slowly erode their relationship. An otherwise happy relationship with a lot of love can be eroded over time with poor conflict skills.
Couples who find a way to talk of differences and find solutions together will be able to navigate life as it happens. This is particularly important if you have different ideas on important subjects, or when kids arrive into your life.
Conflict skills can be learnt at any age but usually require some assistance from an outside source. Couples may know they don’t do conflict well but it can often be difficult to identify where it is going wrong without some assistance.
- Self-awareness – this is the ability to look within ourselves and see our feelings, thoughts and reasons for our behaviours. Typically, being able to do this means we can reflect and see our positive qualities as well as our not so great traits. Being able to do this means we can own our part in a relationship that may be part of a problem and need change.
When I work with people who have little self-awareness, they are very good at having reasons for their behaviours or excuses for themselves. Take a moment to think of people in your life who you have raised a negative with (in a healthy way). Do they accept what you are saying? Did they offer an apology or some empathy? Do they offer to make a change? If they do any of these things then chances are they have good self-awareness.
If on the other hand, they offer you excuses, try and move the blame, or even perhaps paint themselves as the victim, then it is unlikely that they have a good level of self-awareness.
Of course, there are other reasons why people back away from a negative and it isn’t always because they have little self-awareness. But this can be an indicator.
Self-awareness is vital to make change. We need to recognise what we need to change before we can change it. Self-awareness can be learnt so if this is you, don’t despair, you can learn yourself on a different level if you want to.
- Empathy – this is being able to put yourself in your partners shoes and try and
imagine what it might feel like. I see empathy as the bridge between couples when they have different needs or different ideas around life. Without empathy, we can’t have emotional intimacy in our relationship.
Having empathy allows us to try and understand our partners point of view and accept it as valid, even if it is different from ours. Having empathy doesn’t mean we are wrong, it just means we can see how might feel differently for them and respond accordingly.
Couples will have different needs. Being able to listen to your partner with empathy and then use this to try and meet their needs, means you are able to play a large role in making your partner happy within the relationship.
Empathy is not in itself a learnt skill but learning to show it is definitely a skill we can learn and it will benefit your relationship in a big way.
- Good self-esteem – rather, we need ‘good enough’ self-esteem. I have listed this last, but really it is the pre cursor for all of the above. Self-esteem is a driver of many of our personal behaviours and thoughts, how we manage a relationship is largely impacted by this also.
Couples who both have healthy self-esteem are better able to have good communication, have healthy conflict, be more accommodating of each other, be kind, show empathy and have self-awareness. All of these things are present in a healthy relationship and they can all be impacted by self-esteem.
If we have a healthy view of ourselves, we are able to be our authentic selves and allow others to be their true selves also. We can embrace the differences in our partners and see them as positives rather than risk factors to the relationship.
Self-esteem can be repaired if it has been damaged. It takes work but it well worth the effort.
Relationships that have these seven factors, or most of these, stand a really great chance of being happy, healthy relationships through all of life’s challenges. If you want a long term happy relationship, take some time now to reflect on where your relationship is strong and where it may benefit from some attention.
If you need help making your relationship healthy, Book a session now to start creating a better relationship.