These Habits Are the Foundation of Healthy Relationships
When I think back to all the relationships I’ve had that went horribly wrong, they each neglected these fundamental and crucial habits. Each of these takes practice but with time they become second-nature and enhance the relationship.
8. They keep dating and treat date night as a sacred ritual — Esther Perel once said that “You don’t own your partner. Rather, your partner is on loan with the option to renew.” What she means by this is the secret to relationships. When both partners treat the other with the same desire and eagerness to earn and deserve their partner’s love as they did during early dating, the result is ongoing stimulation, attraction, and a renewed sense of that “honeymoon phase”. If you want to avoid the dreaded “rut” in relationships, continuing to date your partner!
7. They “fight” with dignity and respect — Disagreements come. And as each of you evolves, you’re bound to meet new edges of discomfort and growth opportunities in the relationship.
6. They re-commit to each other on a regular basis — Relationships are hard. They summon us to be our best selves. They push on our buttons. They surface our weak spots and light up our blind spots. They show us strength when strength seems impossible. And good relationships that have endurance are the result of ongoing commitment, over and over….annnnd over again.
5. They regularly express Gratitude and Acknowledgement — Gratitude is the great neutralizer. I’ve never seen, “I appreciate you for doing __________(fill in the blank).” be received with the middle finger. Acknowledgment goes in this bucket as well because life. is. hard. And the fact that both partners are showing up, committing to the relationship and making it thru each day with all the tools in their toolbox, is admirable. Acknowledgment = A form of admiration. Show it.
4. Radical transparency — When you have nothing to “hide” you give permission to your partner to see the fullest version of yourself. You allow them into experiencing everything you think, feel, all that you have to offer. This often scary for us humans because many of us fear rejection or fear that our words might hurt the other person. But committing to radical transparency (aka HONESTY) builds the ultimate trust.
3. They check-in on the relationship and each other — Sure, people exhibit signs and symptoms — body language — that send signals to us about the state a person is in. As humans, we are trained to read these subtle cues, but we can’t truly know what a person is experiencing without asking, without checking in. Healthy couples check-in on the state of their relationship. They have dialogue around what’s working, what’s not, where they are going — both as individuals and as a couple. They iterate and respect that needs change over time. What worked yesterday may not be working tomorrow. We evolve, and healthy couples recognize that this evolution requires an ongoing dialogue.
2. They have rituals — One couple I know share coffee and discuss their plans for the day every. single. morning. Another couple I know takes evening walks. And another uses the time before bed to reflect on the highs and lows of the day and do a little “future-gazing.” A client and his wife say their daily and holiday ceremonial prayers together.
1. The relationship is the highest priority — According to @HappyPartnerProject, the most important part of a relationship is the “we”. This isn’t to say that partners allow their individual identities to disappear — that would be codependence. What it does mean is that when both partners are united to treat the “We” that is their relationship dynamic as the utmost important, they eliminate you vs. me and any problems encountered are solved to benefit the relationship, rather than the individuals.