Intimate relationships can go from effortlessly simple (especially in the very beginning) to incredibly complicated in what seems like the blink of an eye. But, if people are honest with themselves, that blink of an eye is often more like an extended period of time when they hold their eyes shut, or avert their eyes, as problems develop. Then, by the time they finally do look, it can be difficult to figure out what happened and what to do to fix things.
Instead, couples would do well to look directly at their problems. Then they could assess, and find a way to overcome, those problems. The best way to approach this is together – because a two-person problem requires a two-person solution. And the more both people are invested in nurturing their relationship, the better chance that relationship has for a strong, intimate connection.
The other part of keeping a relationship strong is thinking about what can make it happier – in addition to just fixing problems. Of course, this requires that couples know what a healthy relationship looks like. To that end, below are ten essential factors for a healthy relationship.
- Genuinely liking and respecting each other
- Doing things just to make each other happy
- Enjoying and valuing time together; and actively working to make it happen
- An ability to show – and accept – affection
- A strong sense of commitment to the relationship; a willingness to stick with the relationship through momentary conflicts and periods of disinterest, or even dislike
- Effective communication and problem-solving skills
- A commitment to work through conflicts and disagreements in a respectful manner; along with an ability to forgive and accept forgiveness
- Realistic and agreed upon expectations of each other; with a willingness to live up to those expectations
- A shared philosophy of life—including values and priorities. This is very broad and very important. For instance, it includes shared attitudes about family and friends; and a shared philosophy on parenting (for those with children).
- A satisfying sexual relationship
If your relationship is faltering – even just a little – or you would just like to improve it, think about each of these factors. Talk about them with your partner. Decide which areas could use improvement, and work on them.
As you prepare to talk with your partner, consider these questions: To what degree does your relationship have each of the above factors? Where can you improve? And, what other factors do you think are important in your relationship?