Relationships are essential to our well-being. Healthy relationships contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of our outlook on life, our happiness and our ability to ride the turbulence that comes with living. Each relationship we have with individuals at home, work, or play is most likely a combination of both healthy and unhealthy characteristics. Healthy Relationships need to be maintained and take work. This applies to all healthy relationships; work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships.
Healthy relationships develop based on a number of characteristic qualities. The 9 listed below are not an exhaustive list. These are at the heart of healthy relationships and are expressed by both parties.
- Mutual Respect: You have admiration and esteem for each other as individual. Each bringing perspectives, experience, skills and gifts to the world. There is a genuine interest in one and other, which you explore and enriches you both. Inherent in this is taking care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship.
- Trust and Honesty: You trust in each other and are honest with each other in all things. Other relationships are encouraged. You have the option of privacy with, for and from each other. You feel secure and happy when you’re together and alone—not sad, suspicious, angry, or deprived.
- Loyalty and Support: Finding people who are unconditionally there for you, through thick, thin and smooth times can feel like finding a blue footed booby in Montana- rare. People who want you in their lives and vice verse simple because of who you are is a treasure.
- Dependability: You are able to count on each other and you follow through with what you say you will do. And when you can’t there is a good reason for this, plus forgiveness and understanding present.
- Fairness and Equality: Relationships are built on give and take; allowing your husband, friend, colleague, child… to influence you is important. And they are two-way street, sometimes the traffic flows more heavily in a given direction, but over time the volume balances out. Being kind rather than controlling with each other is essential for a healthy relationship.
- Separate Identities: You maintain and respect each other’s individuality, as well as what you share in common. You have activities apart from one another. My husband does not ballroom dance and I don’t ride road bikes 40 miles or more in a day. We value that each other does these things and encourage each other to keep doing these things. On the other hand, my husband and I share common fundamental values as well as interests like our love of reading and travel.
- Good Communication: You are able to express yourselves to one another without fear or consequences. You each feel heard, understood and accepted. That does not mean you always will agree or like what the other has to say, but there is space to communicate directly and clearly. To bottom line this you listen to each other with an open heart and a desire to understand more important than judging each other or defending yourselves.
- Resolve Conflicts Fairly: Conflict is a part of all relationships, even happy healthy ones. Fighting fairly and having a way to resolve conflicts is paramount.
- Playfulness and Fondness: You laugh and play together. In the midst of difficulties, you help each other to lighten up with humor. Laughter and fun play a huge role in a healthy relationship.