Relationships form part of what we, as humans, do each and every day. Relate with each other. Connect. Without relationships, we would struggle to thrive and whilst some seem so great at them, others struggle.
Relationships are a necessary part of healthy living, but there is no perfect relationship. Relationships, from acquaintances to romances, have the potential to enrich our lives and add to our enjoyment of life. However, these same relationships can cause discomfort, distress and over time, harm.
A healthy relationship is filled with mutual respect, trust and commitment. There is an understanding that conflict will arise and when it does, it is dealt with calmly through good communication skills. That’s the ideal anyway.
Human relationships take hard work. Many struggle because of the expectations of each other in the relationship. The idea that ‘our relationship will last forever’ is often a misconception in today’s world, with the average length of an Australian marriage lasting just over 8 years. Getting married is one thing, staying happy and well in the relationship is another.
Healthy relationships involve self-respect, compassion, empathy and intimacy. Each partner realises that they are healthy individuals who have differing interests, ideas and ways of looking at life. Or they may feel similarly. But both partners value their time together and enjoy doing ‘their own thing’ so that, when they do come together again, they enjoy talking about what they did when they weren’t together, sharing and laughing about experiences they have had.
You Complete Me
I have heard this statement more times than I can remember with my counselling hat on and when I do, I shudder. NOBODY can complete another person. We must ‘complete ourselves’, we must learn to have self-respect, compassion and empathy for ourselves before we can share any of those with another person. When we look to others to ‘complete’ us as individuals, we are acting in a dependent and needy way which is not healthy in any relationship. It is also smothering for the other person and places unfair demands on them.
Feeling empowered and ‘complete’ is an individual journey that we cannot expect others to do for us. We need to do it ourselves, growing in confidence and self-respect every day.
Empathy is critical in healthy relationships
Described as the ability to see an issue from another person’s perspective, empathy is a key component in healthy relationships. When we show empathy to another person, we let them know that we can show flexibility and see things from their perspective. Empathy indicates strength, not weakness.
In conflict, many women don’t want to see the situation from another person’s perspective, because they feel it may indicate weakness on their part. Actually, to admit there may be another way to see a situation shows strength, compassion and the ability to see things from various angles, not just yours. But many women hold onto their perspective, like a precious piece of jewellery they don’t want to part with, which often divides the couple in conflict.
Consider these three parts of having a ‘competent’ relationship.
- Insight – a deeper understanding of what I need and how I tick, and understand how my partner ticks and what they may need
- Emotional Regulation – as part of Emotional Intelligence, emotional regulation means that both partners can regulate high emotions (particularly in conflict) and resolve issues calmly, focusing on finding a solution
- Mutuality – There are two of us in this relationship and we both need to honour our feelings and those of each other and realise that we must work together to have a mutually happy and fruitful relationship.
6 Signs of a healthy relationship
As none of us are perfect, neither can our relationships be. But a healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but if stress, arguing and ongoing conflict define your relationship more often than enjoyment and fun, it’s time to really reconsider your options.
In healthy relationships:
- Partners are committed to the relationships and there are no additional people in it (such as extra-marital affairs)
- There is a high level of trust in, and loyalty to, the relationship
- Partners fight fairly – with no bringing in of ‘dirty linen’ or personally hurtful accusations
- The relationship is equal whereby both partners see it as a 50-50 partnership
- Communication is calm, regular and free-flowing
- Partners enjoy each other’s company and have fun together
Take the Relationships QUIZ – You can also get your partner do complete it
- Read each statement carefully.
- Score each trait according to the rating scale below:
Use the rating scale to score each trait. In the rating column, write the number you think represents this trait in your relationship in the rating column.
PART 2 – Compare the QUIZ results
Make a note of the traits you and your partner scored the lowest.
Discuss how to improve your relationship
With your partner, talk about those areas you would like to improve.
Create an action plan to show what you will do, when, and how to improve the lowest scored traits of both of you.
Not all women are in great relationships. Some are toxic, others problematic. Many women struggle to understand what a good and happy relationship looks like. Others are in abusive relationships but don’t know it – constantly excusing their partners behaviour for one reason or the other.
Stage 3 of our Be Unstoppable online women’s empowerment Program addresses the role that trust, love and safety play in relationships and how to create a happy and lasting relationship as a woman.
Or you can chat with us about any concerns or ideas you have about how to improve your relationship. Book a free discussion on https://my.timetrade.com/book/QGY21