There are many benefits to your health and well-being when you are part of a loving and supportive partnership with your loved one. For many people in couple’s therapy or family counseling, getting back to a relationship with plenty of both is your psychologist’s therapy goal.
When it comes to your relationship with your significant other, there are crucial areas that contribute to its health. Most experts agree that the following ten aspects are the most critical qualities for a loving relationship:
- Showing and receiving affection for and from the other
- Doing something for the other person because you think it will please them
- Communicating often while employing problem-solving skills as needed
- Exhibiting commitment to the relationship, even during times of conflict
- Respecting the other at all times, especially during conflict
- Interest in and satisfaction enjoyed from sex
- Sharing values and priorities for life categories, ranging from family to parenting to finances to religion
- Desiring to live up to the expectations of the other, as well as a willingness to maintain realistic expectations for the other
- Working to make time for the other, in small and large blocks
- Liking the other person in a genuine, honest way
To take a quiz about your relationship on Psychology Today’s site that asks questions associated with more healthy characteristics of a loving relationship,
Loving relationships exhibit all of the factors above—even if they don’t exhibit them all the time. Psychologist John Gottman is an expert in what makes relationships healthy. He leads The Gottman Institute along with his wife Julie, who is also a psychologist. The Institute is devoted to helping couples maintain loving relationships using principles discovered in scientific studies. His scientific research with partner Robert Levenson conducted in the 80s revealed that relationships fell into two categories: Masters and Disasters.
Masters of love had the ten qualities above. Also, Gottman noticed in further studies that masters also made a habit of giving the other their attention when he or she requested it. In essence, Gottman discovered healthy relationships are built on kindness and generosity. Disasters, on the other hand, do not share the qualities above and do not respond to bids for attention. In some extreme cases, disasters do quite the opposite, ignoring the partner’s request entirely.
To read more about the work of the Gottmans and what makes a good relationship,
Reading through the list of ten qualities of healthy relationships, many couples might recognize areas where their relationship is stable, as well as some areas that could use some work. Let’s take a look at a few common problems in relationships and some ways to address them as a couple.
Clear communication is a foundation for a healthy relationship. When you don’t have your partner’s attention because of distractions or disinterest, it breeds contempt.
- Make an appointment to talk without distractions (i.e. no kids, phones, TV, etc.).
- Establish rules for discussions—and keep to them.
- Mind your nonverbal communication; body language can say a lot about how well you are listening.
Making the relationship a priority is another important element to a healthy relationship. It’s easy to let this slip, however, when juggling careers, money concerns, children, extended family and other responsibilities.
- Schedule regular date nights on the calendar, like you would other appointments — and keep them.
- Mind your manners, e.g., saying thank you or looking for ways to catch your partner doing something right. A little appreciation can go a long way to make your partner feel important.
- Do something you did when you first met, as the nostalgia might help reignite the feelings you had then.
No couple gets along all the time, no matter how healthy their relationship is. However, if you are fighting more than usual and with more vigor than you are comfortable with, perhaps addressing how you handle conflict can help relieve the stress in your arguments.
- Remind yourself that you have a choice whether or not to react; the only person you can control in the situation is you.
- Take note as to whether your comments in the heat of the moment are designed to solve the problem or to hurt the other person’s feelings. Chances are if it’s the latter, you could use some work on your tactics.
- Apologize when you are wrong. No one loves to do it, but your relationship needs it.
To read more about common relationship problems—like chores, money, and sex—and their respective solutions, please read the WebMD article here.
It is best to address these troubled areas rather than ignore them, as these issues grow worse with time. Faster than most couples think ,it becomes difficult to isolate and address the causes of troubles than it would have been at the start.
Deciding to work on issues together is the best way to strengthen your relationship. Consider going through the list of ten qualities as a couple and discerning what areas of your relationship are strong and what areas aren’t. Identify the most important aspect to address first. Also, bring to the discussion any other areas you think are vital to your relationship’s health.
However, this discussion and process might not be as simple as it sounds. In these cases, the couple’s therapy discussion can be led by a third party, a licensed psychologist with expertise in family and couples counseling. Working together, you can come up with a plan to strengthen areas that have grown weaker over time or even areas you have never addressed as a couple.