You have been in a healthy relationship for some time now and everything seems to be going great! And you are reading this because you are wondering what a healthy relationship needs to stay healthy. Good for you!
I believe that there are 7 components of a healthy relationship. Pay attention to these 7 things and safeguard your relationship from the things that can tear you apart.
#1- A healthy relationship needs good communication.
Really, there is nothing more important for a healthy relationship than good communication. Nothing.
It is important that we tell our partners when they aren’t making us feel good. It is important that we tell our partners that they are important to us. It is important that we tell our partners how much we love them.
I can’t tell you how many of my clients find it almost impossible to be honest with their partners about how they are feeling. They are scared of making themselves vulnerable and afraid of the outcome.
Just last night a client was telling me that she felt like all of the hard work that she and her husband had put into saving their marriage was slipping away because he was busy at work and she was lonely. She said she was just going to try to find interests of her own. I suggested that she tell him she was worried that the results of their hard work was slipping away. Be honest with him about how she was feeling.
She did and he got it and they made a plan for time together this weekend. Together.
#2 – A healthy relationship needs just the right amount of sex.
Every happy couple has a sex life that suits them. There is no exact formula for how much sex a couple must have to be happy. Instead, each couple needs to decide what is best for them, to talk about it and play around and meet each other’s sexual needs in a way that makes everyone excited.
I have a client whose husband wants to have sex EVERY night and, while she really likes having sex with him, every night just doesn’t work for her. She used to just rebuff his advances, which made him feel bad, but on my advice she talked to him about it. She explained how she felt, they agreed that she would be the instigator and that she would instigate often. That worked for both of them and they are happy.
So tick this one off of your list. Talk to your partner about your sex life and make a plan to make it work well for both of you.
Sounds fun, right?
#3 – A healthy relationship needs some inside jokes.
What really? How can that be? That is such a little thing.
Happy couples are like a little islands unto themselves. Sure, they have families and friends and jobs and responsibilities but they also have things that they only share with each other. Inside jokes.
Imagine this. You and your spouse are at a family BBQ. Tensions are flying over something. Politics, perhaps. And then your father in law says something, something that he ALWAYS says and that you and your spouse have whispered about in bed at night. You meet eyes as the statement is made and you just connect. You smile and nod and go on with the day with a warm feeling in your tummy.
Connection is what real love is about. And having a secret is super fun. So having an inside joke, a combination of the two, can’t be beat for keeping couples close.
#4 – A healthy relationship means keeping promises.
Promises. They are usually made with such good intentions but when they are broken there can be disastrous consequences.
Promises have to do with trust. If you make a promise and don’t keep it then trust is lost. It’s better to not make a promise that you can’t keep then continue to break ones that you do.
I have a client whose boyfriend kept promising her that she could meet his kids. And yet every time a meeting was set up there was always an excuse about why it couldn’t happen.
Eventually she stopped wanting to meet his kids, and, ultimately, she stopped wanting to be with him.
Her trust in him had been lost. And without trust what is there?
Make your promises carefully. Remember how important they are for maintaining trust. And love.
#5 – A healthy relationship means not taking each other for granted.
Let me state that one again. Don’t take anyone for granted.
When we first fall in love our attention is completely focused on that one person. But as time goes by we get distracted by life and we can start to neglect the one we love. We know they are there, and we assume that they will always be there, so we stop tending the relationship. And the consequences can again be disastrous.
This I can tell you from personal experience. My husband, no matter how awful I was to him, always promised me that he would never leave me. I didn’t mean to but because of this I took him for granted and while I planned to make changes to my behavior I never quite made it happen.
And, guess what. He left me.
So pay attention to that person in bed next to you. One day they just might be gone and where would you be then?
#6 – A healthy relationship needs quality time and shared interests.
Yes, we are all busy, with lots on our mind and all sorts of pressures. But it is important that you take the time to have quality time with your partner. Time that is spent together doing things that you both love.
In my marriage we divided and conquered. My ex-husband worked hard and I took care of the kids. Any free time we had we spent focused on the family. We had nothing left that was just us. As a result, we stopped being the two of us in a relationship but being two of us working parallel to each other, raising our children, managing the business of our family.
So find something that you both like to do together and do it. REGULARLY. Don’t let that love slip away in the hustle and bustle of life.
#7 – A healthy relationship means making your partner a priority.
Yes, yes, I know. There are so many important things in our lives these days. Making money is one of the first that comes to mind. Making sure our children grow into successful adults is another. And then there is exercise. And friends. And hobbies. And your phone.
And all of these are important. But one thing that you realize, when you no longer have a partner, is that none of these things really matter because you, well, you don’t have a partner.
So make your partner your priority. Every day.
Work is important but so is getting home for date night. That Saturday morning 15 mile run? Go for it but if you could instead spend the morning alone with your spouse, consider it. A movie night with the girls? Bring your husband instead. Movie negotiable. The phone? Put it down.
Consider all the good that could come from making your spouse a priority. Connection, laughter, physical affection, good will, sex, happiness. Arguably more life enhancing than the money and the muscles and the children with a perfect score on their SAT.
100 years ago the author George Sands said: There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.
No truer words have ever been spoken. Love is what makes the world go round and it is important that we recognize that and take action to preserve it, no matter what. That we do what needs to be done to keep a healthy relationship healthy.
So pick up the phone, call your person, tell them you love them, make them laugh and invite them out to do something fun.
Do it now. Don’t wait!
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.