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What makes you think you’re in a healthy relationship? If you doubt your relationship is healthy, then what makes it unhealthy?
Fighting a lot doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is unhealthy. It means you and your partner haven’t learned how to communicate in healthy, clear, respectful ways.
And that’s the foundation of a healthy relationship: communication.
Dr Guy Grenier is a clinical psychologist and author of The Ten Conversations You Must Have Before You Get Married. He writes,
“Believing you’re a good and effective communicator may not translate into actual skill and expertise. Hardly a week goes by in my office that I don’t interview a new couple who claims that they’ve always been great communicators and that few if any of their problems stem from a failure of expression or listening. Yet almost always, communication errors and missteps begin to emerge in the very first session – often within the first two or three minutes!”
You can’t have a healthy relationship without communicating. The problem is, we think we’re communicating clearly…but sometimes our messages are garbled and unclear. One of the best ways to fine tune our communication skills is to talk to our partners in front of a psychologist or counselor. He or she can point out where we’re making mistakes.
What is a Healthy Relationship?
If you think your relationship is doomed, read 7 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship. It may help you figure out how to rebuild it…or move on before things get worse.
Learning how to talk to each other may be the single most important part of a healthy relationship. Communication involves knowing yourself well enough to figure out what you really think and feel. For instance, when I get really mad at my husband Bruce, I tend to shut down and shut him out. I refuse to talk to him – I stonewall him. This is not only unhealthy for our relationship, it’s actually unhealthy for me physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Communication involves knowing yourself well enough to speak your truth in love, gentleness, and kindness.
Of course, when you learn how to successfully send your messages…will your partner hear and respect them?
Respecting your partner’s wishes and intentions are another part of a healthy relationship. What else matters other than treating the one you love with respect and love? But you also have to be true to yourself. You have to find the balance between respecting what your partner wants, and not compromising yourself or your boundaries.
We’re actually dealing with a huge issue in our marriage right now: whether or not to leave our church. I don’t like the route our church has taken, and I want to find a new one. My husband would prefer to stay where we are, because it’s difficult to form relationships with new people. This may not seem like as huge an issue as infertility and job loss (which we’re also dealing with), but for some reason it is. Where I put my spiritual life is extremely important to me, while I have little or no control over fertility or employment.
Bruce and I need to find a way to communicate our wishes, and respect each other enough to find a compromise.
This is where it gets tricky! How do we decide what to do when both partners want completely different things? Having a lively discussion about your problems is healthy and good; finding a resolution you can both live with is the true test of a healthy relationship. This brings us back to communication, which I believe is the foundation of a healthy relationship!
A healthy relationship isn’t about letting your partner make all the decisions or walk all over you. It’s about having the courage to experience conflict without running away or blowing up, and about making sacrifices while maintaining your sense of self. It’s not easy…but it’s worth it!
“The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.” Alexandra Penney.
I welcome your thoughts – what does a healthy relationship mean to you?
Do You Feel Insecure and Unsure in Your Relationship? Then it probably isn’t healthy or uplifting.