When a person enters into a relationship, they know that there are certain ideals they should work toward. Both the other person and the people around them will tell the couple what they should do, how they should act, and what a “healthy” relationship looks like, but that definition is rarely clear. Here are a couple of behaviors that emotional and relations experts have said each relationship should have in order to be healthy.
The phrase is a cliche for a reason. Many experts agree that open communication is one of the best ways to ensure that a relationship is and remains healthy. Marshall B. Rosenberg said that nonviolent communication is the best way to ensure that communication remains healthy and positive in his book “Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life.” “Instead of habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting,” Rosenberg said. By choosing words carefully and communicating in a compassionate way, couples can ensure that conflicts are dealt with constructively, Rosenberg said. Communication with your partner and with yourself support a healthy partnership.
Honest communication with yourself has been proven to be a trait in those engaged in healthy relationships. Self-compassion, or the idea of extending compassion to yourself when feelings of inadequacy arise, is a character trait present in the individuals of many healthy romantic relationships. The difference between self-esteem and self-compassion was discussed in Kriston D. Neff’s article The Role of Self-compassion in Romantic Relationships for Self and Identity Journal in 2013. “Self-compassion was also a stronger predictor of positive relationship behavior than trait self-esteem or attachment style,” Neff said about the two character traits. In order to have the kind of honesty with yourself and your partner, you must have an understanding regarding what each person stands for and wants.
Awareness is an ambiguous concept but can be very important for the health of a relationship. By simply remaining aware of the emotions, goals, and reservations of your partner, you can bring understanding to a conversation regarding a conflict and resolve with lasting compassion. “Having relationship awareness in one’s marriage narrative seems to reflect a positive commitment to the marriage in general,” said Mark A. Young in his article “Healthy Relationships: Where’s the Research?” for the Idaho State Literature Review.
Studies have shown that the degree of intimacy in a couples relationship sometimes indicates that that the relationship is supportive and healthy. “If true intimacy is to be part of a healthy couple relationship, each partner must feel totally secure in sharing his or her innermost thoughts, feelings, and self-disclosures with his or her partner without the fear of being judged, evaluated, or ridiculed,” said Dennis A. Bagarozzi in “Marital intimacy needs questionnaire: Preliminary report” in the. American Journal of Family Therapy. The relationship between trust and intimacy and trust is very strong and if intimacy remains in a relationship, trust must as well. When trust breaks down, it could be the sign of a malfunctioning relationship, Bagarozzi said.
Barges said that the idea of reciprocity has a lot to do with intimacy and trust as well. There needs to be a level of give and take in every relationship, said Bagarozzi. “One must also feel that one’s partner is reciprocating on similar levels of self-disclosure for intimacy to be maintained,” Bagarozzi said. “This mutuality and reciprocity allow a relationship to move forward into greater depths of intimacy and trust.” Each partner must feel as though the other is doing just as much for the health and happiness of a relationship as they are. In this way couples can ensure relationship health, Bagarozzi said.