As far as lists go, healthy relationship do’s and don’ts are one of the most important because healthy relationships, and the love that is a part of them, make the world go round.
For every “do” there is a “don’t” associated with it. Understanding the difference between the two is a key part of really knowing how to be in a healthy relationship, one that is full of love and romance and respect and, well, all of it!
#1 – Do: Express your feelings.
Expressing your feelings in a relationship is very important. Many of my clients say I don’t have to tell him that I love him. He knows. Yes, he might know but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell him.
Furthermore, if you are angry or sad or lonely because of something that your partner did, tell him. He needs to know how he made you feel so he can learn what you need from him and you need to express your feelings so they don’t get trapped in your body. Feelings that get trapped in your body are toxic.
Don’t: Be passive aggressive.
It is very important that you express your feelings but it is VERY important that you not be passive aggressive in how you express them.
Passive aggressiveness is a tendency to engage in indirect expression of hostility through acts such as subtle insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or a deliberate failure to accomplish required tasks.
If your partner did something to upset you it’s not okay to given him the silent treatment, to sulk, to do to him what he did to you, or act in any way that isn’t straightforward about how you are thinking.
If your husband is always home late for work tell him how upset you are. Don’t ignore him when he gets home and then tell him that you don’t want him home anyway and that he might as well just stay at work forever. This will only make matters worse and will never get you what you really want – that he come home at night for dinner.
#2 – Do: Be understanding.
People are human. And sometimes they make mistakes. And if they do it’s okay. They are human.
If your husband promised you that he would put up the curtain rods on a rainy Saturday afternoon and if, by the end of the day, that didn’t happen, it’s okay to be upset. But it’s essential that you talk to him about it and understand why it didn’t happen.
Yes, perhaps he just chose to watch football with your son instead or maybe he just forgot. Either way, he is only human. Express your disappointment that the job wasn’t done but forgive him and try again on Sunday.
Don’t: Take things personally.
If your husband promised you that he would put up the curtain rods on a rainy Saturday afternoon and if, by the end of the day, that didn’t happen, don’t take it personally.
Don’t think If he loved me he would have put up the curtain rods. That simply isn’t true. He didn’t put up the curtain rods for a variety of reasons but none of them was because he didn’t love you.
#3 – Do: Be honest.
An essential part of being in a healthy relationship is honesty. Truly, a healthy relationship cannot exist if partners aren’t honest with each other.
If something has happened or you are feeling some way, it is essential that you let your partner know so that you can process it together. Sharing everything is a big part of maintaining a healthy, intimate relationship.
Don’t: Keep secrets.
Keeping secrets will kill a relationship. Period.
Even those little pesky secrets, the ones that you keep because you want to ‘protect your loved one,’ are insidious and destructive and will only cause trouble.
Don’t keep secrets. They always get out and when they do the harm that they cause is often worse than the secret itself.
#4 – Do: Maintain a healthy sex life.
A healthy sex life is an essential part of every relationship. The only person in the world that you are having sex with is your partner and that should be treated as the very special thing that it is. Make sex a regular and enjoyable part of your relationship.
Don’t: Pretend that the sex is okay when it isn’t.
If the sex you are having with your partner isn’t okay then let your partner know. I can guarantee you that your partner would rather know the truth and be able to do what he can to make the sex more enjoyable than to find out that you have just been pretending all along.
Once again, be honest!
#5 – Do: Appreciate each other.
You have a partner who you have chosen for a variety of reasons. He is handsome or smart or kind or practical or handy. For whatever reason you chose him to be yours.
Now that he is yours, appreciate everything that you have. If your man fixes your cabinets for you without asking, or helps your neighbor solve that tax problem or looks just so in his new green sweater, TELL HIM!
You know how good it feels when he tells you.
Don’t: Take each other for granted.
Unfortunately, often times once we settle down into a long-term relationship we start to take each other for granted. The things that we fell in love with them for are things that we just assume will always be there, not matter what we do.
I know that when I was married I just assumed my husband would always be there, no matter how I treated him, which wasn’t always very well. And guess what. He left me!
So don’t take your guy for granted. If you love him make him feel that way. Every day.
#6 – Do: Laugh with each other.
Laughing is an essential part of every healthy relationship. Remember when you first fell in love, the hours you spent together, sharing and laughing. And didn’t if feel good?
It is so important that the laughter continue. Make sure you spend time together doing what you both love, enjoying each other’s company and laughing.
Don’t: Laugh at each other.
One of the things that happen when couples are together for a long time is that they aren’t always kind to each other. Those things that bug us about our partner often are revealed in unkind ways.
Do you ever find yourself laughing at your partner because he is letting people take advantage of him again? Or sarcastically commenting on how well his shirt and tie match? Do you talk to your friends about the stupid things that he does?
If you do any of these things, stop. If you have issues with your husband or if he does something that bothers you, tell him, don’t laugh at him. Because that kind of laughter just isn’t funny.
Being in a healthy relationship can be really amazing but it can also be a lot of hard work. It is very important that you follow my healthy relationship do’s and don’ts to keep yours going strong.
It is important that you are always honest with your partner, in a kind way, that you don’t take things personally and that you don’t keep secrets. It is also key that you have a sex life that pleases you both, that you love and appreciate each and that laughter is a priority.
If you are reading this, I am guessing that you have a healthy relationship that you want to keep healthy. You CAN do it. Start today.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.