Relationship difficulties are a common presenting issue in my practice. Over the years I have helped many couples regain their ‘mojo’ so that they can thrive in a successful relationship. I have also helped couples separate as together their relationships were far from thriving. And, sadly I have witnessed clients endure emotionally abusive relationships because the difficulty in leaving or in taking an assertive stand was more daunting to them than the familiar pattern of abuse.
Recently, a young adult male client asked me “How do you know if a relationship will really work long term”? This client experienced his parents divorce as a youngster and is admitting to having ‘cold feet’ when thinking of taking his relationship to the next level.
I acknowledged to him that there are no guarantees in life and that relationships take work by both partners.
It is important to assess your relationship early. A long-lasting relationship has a foundational basis that supports it and the couple involved through good times and not so good times. Relationships do differ as much as the individuals involved in them, however there are certain essential elements that appear in every healthy and loving relationship.
These essentials are:
Honesty and Trust are the glue for a relationship to succeed. A loving relationship is built on a foundation of trust, and trust comes from honesty. These two connecting elements are crucial from the start of the relationship and need to be nurtured through communication, as well as actions. Also, it’s equally important to be honest with yourself. Do you feel loved? Do you feel trusted?
Commitment is an essential part of a healthy, loving relationship. When you make a commitment to one another the element of loyalty becomes involved. A feeling of loyalty between two partners provides a feeling of safety. By remaining loyal and faithful in a relationship, you strengthen the bond between you. It is important to ‘want’ a partner, it is a problem if you feel you ‘need’ a partner.
Words, needs, ideas, actions and decisions are amongst some of the things in a relationship that require respect. This element can often be tested when differences arise, but it’s important to remember that differences aren’t always bad and can lead to new understandings. When you respect your partner, you’re willing to hear what they’re saying even if you don’t necessarily agree.
In a loving relationship, you spend a lot of time communicating about the little, inconsequential things in life. Although discussions on important things often take place early in a relationships, these topics often fade into the background as the relationship grows older. Take time every now and then to talk about life’s bigger issues as opinions and feelings can change over the years.
Relationships require work. The old 50/50 concept isn’t always realistic. When your partner goes through a stressful time i.e job loss, illness, you may have to give more than 50 % effort. Sometimes the scale is tipped to 70/30. If both partners are willing to give effort, things eventually even out over time.