The goal in any relationship is to feel safe, supported and respected.
In intimate relationships we also have an expectation to be emotionally taken care of, wanted, unconditionally accepted, and loved to the core of our existence. We all want to feel part of something special, and not alone.
A healthy relationship encourages personal growth and supports individuality. It is possible to be who we are, rather than who we think we need to be for our partner.
According to Clinical Psychologist Dr Lars Madsen, "What makes for a healthy romantic relationship differs from couple to couple. Forming a trusting and positive partnership takes effort and time, and unfortunately, it doesn't just happen overnight. For any relationship to grow strong and stay strong, you need to put in some work."
Here are 10 great tips that will help create and maintain a happy and healthy couple.
Communication is one of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship. Healthy couples vocalise their love for one another and share compliments. They also discuss the bad instead of sweeping issues under the rug. In order to move forward and grow, you need to be able to talk about your feelings. No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, it will make for a longer-lasting and more fulfilling relationship.
Respecting your partner comes in many forms. Maintaining a joyful relationship means respecting your partner's time, heart, character, and trust. Respect is an easy thing to lose, so be mindful that it works both ways.
Quality Time, Not Quantity Time
It doesn't matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important thing is the quality of this time. It's crucial to make sure that you are still engaging and spending meaningful time together to maintain a deep connection. Life gets busy, but don't let that be an excuse.
Spending time with your partner is important, but it's just as important to spend some time apart. Being able to do your own thing and remain independent is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy, co-dependent situation. Maintaining healthy boundaries and allowing yourself and your partner some autonomy will make for a longer-lasting partnership.
People all have unique ways of feeling loved; it's like every person has a specific language that translates to love. They can be words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. It's important to know which love language speaks to you, and which language speaks to your partner. Telling each other what makes you feel loved and special helps both of you stay connected and should aid communication.
Show your special someone that you love him or her. This could be done with words, cards, flowers, acts of kindness, and more (refer back to love languages). Remember, a flower a day keeps the fights at bay. Okay, maybe not every day, but you get the point.
Positive vs. Negative
Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the negative. You hate your job, you're annoyed with your friends, and your partner is getting on your last nerve. It's vital that you look at your partner's positive qualities, in contrast to the negative. Nobody is perfect, and not only does that include your significant other, but yourself.
Choose Your Battles
There are arguments to be had in every relationship. It's crucial to bring issues to the forefront, and work through the hard times together. Choose your battles wisely. People in happy and healthy relationships are able to give and take, and know when to compromise.
Sex is important in cultivating a flourishing relationship. The more you have it, the more you want it. The other side of that is true as well. The less you have it, the less you want it--and, unfortunately, it'll end up being a case of the less you have it, the less you'll feel connected to your partner. It's important to keep your sex life alive and thriving. Don't be afraid to try something new.
We often compare our lives to those of others; what jobs people have, their homes, their clothes, etc. With the 'help' of social media, we tend to compare our relationships as well. You should know that the happiest of couples don't bother with what the grass looks like on the other side. They are happy with the view out their own front door.
A healthy relationship with your partner is a great ingredient for your own healthy self-esteem. When you feel supported and connected, you can better enjoy exploring your own independence. Understanding how to maintain a relationship can help you better understand yourself, and allow for growth in all aspects of your life.
Elizabeth Venzin is the Founder and CEO of the Australian Not-for-Profit Organisation The MindShift Foundation. Resources about self-esteem can be found on the MindShift website www.mindshift.org.au