Have you ever wondered why some couples make their relationship appear so seamless? Do you walk away slightly envious wanting what they have?
With all the relationship problems these days, when we see a couple getting along well, it does make us stop in our tracks. We question ourselves and our relationship. Why does it seem so easy for them? What do they have that we don’t? And how can I have a healthier relationship?
Working with distressed couples I completely understand those questions because for most of us, it used to be seamless and happy. Everything just seemed to flow. But there are several key factors that rise to the top that healthy couples have in their relationship.
And although healthy couples are not always perfect in their attempt, they exhibit a mindset of commitment as they continue to evolve, grow, and change.
1. Sexual intimacy.
Sex is a healthy part of their relationship and relationships in general. You need healthy sexual intimacy to sustain a relationship. They don’t get caught up in ‘regular sex’ because what is that, anyway? They find a way to talk about their desires and needs and recognize that when life gets busy and feels overwhelming, sex might take a hit. That’s all too common. However, how these couples talk about it remains key. If they have to schedule it, they schedule it. Importance of what regular sex varies among couples and is what is good for the couple. What works for them. Not anyone else. Not any other couple. Just them.
2. They remain curious.
Couples are and remain curious about one another, their life, themselves. They ask questions. They are open to trying new things. They remember the beginning when they were excited to do new things together and were curious and interested about the other person and interests.Not much has changed. Because we are hard-wired for novelty, its incumbent that people remain curious about life, yourself, and your partner – key components in developing and sustaining a healthy relationship for the long haul.
3. Communication rocks.
Couples discuss, share, argue, and disagree. They talk about things that are important to them. Even the difficult subjects. They have – by and large – effective and healthy communication skills and strategies that are vital to having conversations that don’t always become circular in nature or escalate in arguments (even though sometimes they do). They are more inclined to have a resolution and solution mindset. They both have learned how to use their voice in healthy and kind ways and are able to manage their tone and inflection. You both feel safe communicating your personal needs and wants. Finding the time to discuss issues both as a couple and individually, is valued. You are able to listen with undivided attention, which promotes real understanding.
4. They unplug.
Healthy couples do the work to stay connected in our over connected world but also know the importance of unplugging and checking out. This means setting healthy boundaries and when necessary disconnecting from social media, friends, and families. They recognize that it isn’t always necessary to be connected to the outside world. One to one time is important. It is key. It is vital. Talking without interruption. Simply watching a movie or tv program without checking Facebook, Instagram, or email sends the message that, ‘you are more important than any post or email and right now, “we” are important. The human connection.
5. They create space.
Time together and time apart are both vital and necessary to the long-term survival of the relationship. Space is where couples grow. Too much time together can make a person feel they are losing their identity and individuality, their sense of self. Time apart makes you cherish the time together and creates a “missing you” feeling that enhances intimacy. It’s important to be the person your partner fell in love with. They learn to recognize their differences and embrace your similarities.
6. Cultivate interests.
They seek out and cultivate outside interests. How couples negotiate this varies. However, individual interests keep the novelty alive and creates the space between couples that is needed to remain curious about one another. Each person is not threatened by their partner’s interests with family and friends that do not always include them. They recognize this is part of who they are. Important!
7. Strong foundation of trust and values.
You and your partner have a strong sense of trust between you. You are able to discuss everything openly, even the things that are not so great. Neither of you has a hidden agenda or secrets from his or her past. You also share basic values and life goals and have discovered what you want out of life, identified your common goals and know that working together will help you both get there.
8. More than a one and done.
Healthy couples know that a slight or falter does not define the person they are as that goes to character. We are all fallible and make mistakes. We say and do dumb things. We unintentionally disappoint our partners. When a person makes mistake, the other person doesn’t look at this as a character flaw, but a mistake. You can still love someone and be angry or disappointed at them in the moment. One single error doesn’t define a person. Couples learn how to look at the situation in its context.
9. Continue to grow.
Healthy couples continue to grow and evolve. They put the effort in to be a better person. They continue to make changes to bring their best self to the relationship. They don’t take their partner or spouse for granted. Remember the early days when time and care was put into how we look and taking care of ourselves? We all do. Couples know the importance of self-care and work hard not to settle into a routine that prevents them from growing and demonstrating that they are taking care of themselves. They honor the other person.
10. Embrace the ebb and flow.
Couples recognize that relationships have their own ebb and flow. No two relationships are the same. How each couple manages the ups and downs of life – and there will be plenty – is a critical factor in staying healthy. Healthy couples don’t focus solely on the negative things because they understand that to have the good times, you have to also recognize that there will be difficult and challenging times.
11. Create the positive list.
Each person can list many of the positive things they like/love about their partner. They focus on the 5:1 ratio – expressing five positives for every one negative. Yes, there will be challenges and things that drive you crazy! But they are able to look past those things and focus in on the good and share openly about their struggles.
12. The Happiness Factor.
Each person doesn’t hold their partner/spouse responsible for their happiness. Although it’s nice to feel validated and hear reassuring words, each person recognizes that true happiness comes from within. They don’t rely or make the other person feel guilty or bad if they are unhappy!
The key to having a healthy relationship is to recognize that relationships are constantly evolving and even people in healthy relationships don’t do these things flawlessly – that’s the beauty of relationships. Because incorporating these healthy behaviors really can change the course of your relationship
They do however work hard at consistently approaching their partner with respect, openness, and a willingness to be introspective enough to examine their mistakes, make necessary changes and improvements. You encourage each other to continue to grow, change, evolve and inspire each other to be better people.
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Kristin M. Davin, Psy.D.
Solution Focused Psychologist & Coach
Originally appeared on KristinDavin.com
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