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Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. What are the qualities or characteristics that relationships need to possess in order to stay healthy? Here is a list to keep in mind:

Trust

Trust is a firm belief in someone’s reliability or truth. Trust is very important and it shows up in many different ways. We need to trust our partner with the boundaries we have set up for our relationship. (Fidelity within the relationship.) It is important that we can trust our partner’s word. Do they do what they say? Do they say what they do? Another piece of trust in a relationship is trusting that things will be okay.

Honesty

In order to build trust we have to have honesty. We have to be able to believe what our partner is telling or showing us. A lack of honesty erodes the foundation of a relationship.

Mutual Respect

Respect is defined by admiration for someone because of their abilities, qualities and/or achievements. Respect is important in relationships because it helps us feel safe and confident. With respect you can accept and admire your partner even if you don’t agree with them all the time.

Separate yet Together

In a relationship it is important to be able to count on your partner. To be a team. But within this partnership you need to be able to maintain a level of autonomy. Don’t lose yourself in your partner’s identity. Stay true to who you are, what you believe and where you came from. Respect your partner’s autonomy and identity.

Good Communication

Good communication is important in a relationship so that we can communicate our needs, desires and wants. Our thoughts and feelings can flow freely between us when we have good and effective communication. Good Communication will decrease the number and frequency of arguments, hurt feelings and resentment.

Problem Solving

Good and effective problem solving goes hand in hand with good communication. With effective problem solving we are able to look at issues more objectively and solve the problems that we are facing as a couple. Sometimes this problem solving will be done individually or as a team.

Fights

Along with effective problem solving comes fighting fair and staying in control. Remember that the goal is to have a good relationship. When you fight dirty no one wins. If you tear your partner down you tear your relationship down and ultimately destroy it. Listen to your partner. By this I mean TRULY listen to your partner. Listen to understand, don’t listen to respond. Figure out where your partner is coming from and try to make them feel heard. Along with fighting fair, or productively, is staying in control. Anger, rage and belittling will destroy the relationship. It will destroy the trust, respect and safety that has been built so far. Rage and violence (verbal or physical) are never okay in a relationship.

Friendship

Friendship is an important part of a healthy relationship. Having a best friend in your partner is so important. Sometimes this is referred to as the marital friendship. Having a strong friendship in your relationship will deepen the relationship and increase the bond between you. The result of this strong bond is increased emotional and physical intimacy.

Intimacy

Intimacy, whether emotional and/or physical, is an important part of a relationship. In physical intimacy it is very important that both partners are comfortable with the acts and boundaries. Neither partner should ever feel forced, pressured or coerced into engaging in acts that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Another type of intimacy is emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the closeness that each partner feels that makes them feel loved, valued and secure.

For some emotional intimacy is the result of physical intimacy. But for others physical intimacy is the result of emotional intimacy.

Relationships are a lot of work but they are so rewarding. Keep the list above in mind as you interact with your partner. Working together to create a healthy relationship will leave you both feeling safe, secure, loved and valued.