Wouldn’t you love to know how healthy relationships work?
Is there anything that you would like more than to have a healthy relationship, a love to share your life with?
Sure, a job and a nice apartment and good friends are important to you but really, isn’t love the ultimate goal?
For many of us the answer is yes!
So how do you find love, find a healthy relationship? And how do you know if the relationship you are in now is even healthy?
Let’s talk about how healthy relationships work so that you can have one!
In a healthy relationship:
#1 – Keep things even.
Think about your past relationships that haven’t worked out. Was one of you more dominant than the other? Did one of you have more control? If yes, that might be why it didn’t work out.
In healthy relationships, couples are evenly matched and if they aren’t it’s because both sides are okay with an imbalance.
Does one of you decide more often what you do on weekends? Does one of you decide how the closet is going to be organized? Does one of you decide who your friends are?
Does the answer to those questions above always point to the same person?
If yes, then your relationship is out of balance. If one person has all power in a relationship it’s not healthy. Not healthy because no one can truly be happy if they are being told what to do or made to do things they don’t want to do.
So take a look at your partnership. Are you happy with how decisions are made? If he makes all the decisions and you are still happy then that’s ok. But if you aren’t happy, then it’s time to make change.
#2 – Love yourselves first.
Do you like the person who you are? Do you like the work that you do? Do your relationships make you feel good about yourself? Do you not take others’ actions personally? Are you honest with yourself about your issues and limitations?
All of these are very important pieces of knowing and liking ourselves. It is essential that both people in a relationship know and accept themselves. Because if they do, then they can truly open their heart to another.
I have always struggled with feeling insecure in relationships. I always struggled with the feeling that there was no way any guy could really like me. There was no basis for that but I felt that way and it made me difficult to be in a relationship with.
And then I started my own business. I worked hard and found success. And in the meantime I learned that I was awesome and that I was making a difference in the world and that any guy would be lucky to have me. And guess what! I found an amazing guy because I was not longer insecure about myself.
And, yes, he does love me madly.
#3 – Always be honest.
I have said it before and will say it again. Without honesty there is no hope for happiness in a relationship, or anywhere.
I have a client who lives in constant fear that her husband is fooling around on her. It occupies her every waking moment – that she can’t trust him. That he is talking to another woman while he is at work or out doing errands. She worries so much that it is taking over her life and making her miserable.
So talk to him about it, I suggested. But she can’t. She and her husband have gotten to a place where they don’t feel safe talking to each other about anything, big or small.
So instead of talking with her husband, sorting out her feelings and reconciling them with his actions, she is living with anxiety and fear and she is miserable.
Every person in a healthy relationship is in an honest relationship. If you have issues with your partner that are affecting your happiness, speak up. Let him know how you are feeling and you can work together to try to fix it.
And be honest about other things too – honest about where you go after work or when you are going to see your mother or about how much money you spent on the new vacuum cleaner. Make it a policy to never tell a lie, not even a white one.
#4 – Have a life of your own.
It is very important that both sides of a relationship are not completely reliant on the other for their happiness.
I have a client whose whole life revolves around her husband. She wakes up with him, makes him breakfast, gets him off to work, cleans the house after he is gone, brings him lunch at work, makes dinner for when he comes home and watches what he wants to watch every night.
She has turned her back on everyone in her life so that her husband can be happy. She tells herself that she is happy because he is happy but really, she isn’t.
That is why she is talking to me!
Make sure that when you are in a relationship you have lots of things in your life outside of your relationship. Make sure you have a job, or a hobby, that you love. Make sure that you have friends who you can play with. Make sure that you spend time by yourself so that you are comfortable being alone.
If you rely completely on your partner for your happiness, you will only be setting yourself up for failure. Going away and then coming together to share experiences is a key part of maintaining a healthy relationship.
So call up some girlfriends and make a date for dinner and the movies. Your husband will be fine and will be very happy to see you when you return.
Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
#5 – Make each other feel loved.
Did you know that while you might feel like the things that you are doing for your partner make him feel loved, those things might not actually be working?
Shocking, I know!
Expressing love seems straightforward, no? Well, not so much.
It seems that most of us express love in ways that WE want to be loved – as opposed to in ways our partner wants to be loved.
We might feel loved when we get a piece of jewelry as an expression of affection but our partner might feel loved by getting to spend a full day together, just the two of you. We might feel loved when we get a hug but our partner might feel loved if we take out the trash.
The key is learning what it is that your partner needs to feel loved. When you learn what that is and express your love using those actions, your partner will truly feel loved.
Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages created a whole movement around this concept of there being 5 languages of love, and thus 5 ways to express love to your partner. And when you use your partner’s love language they will FEEL loved.
Check out his website here.
So now you know about how healthy relationships work and now you can get out there and find one of your own or make the one that you are in healthier.
The goal for all of us is love and, in order to find it and keep it, we need to do the hard work.
So make sure that the power levels are even in your relationship. Make sure that you both know and like yourselves and that you each have a life outside of the relationship. Always, always, be honest. And love your partner the way they want to be loved.
So now you know what you are looking for. Go out and find it!
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.