Love can be enduring. It might even be eternal. But what about compatibility? There’s the rub. We each continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives. Our needs change. Our desires shift. How can this not impact our relationships?

There’s the rub.

We each continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives. Our needs change. Our desires shift. How can this not impact our relationships?

In some cases, we meet when we’re young. Just as often, we’re older and might imagine ourselves to be fully formed adults. Either way, expect change. If a relationship feels carved in stone, one of you is dangerously compromising. This is one of the many signs of an unhealthy relationship. Others include:

  • Lack of communication or miscommunication
  • Decrease in intimacy
  • Increase in criticism and judgments
  • Passive aggressive, passive or aggressive behavior
  • Spending less time together
  • Inability or unwillingness to forgive

On the flip side…

10 Essential Qualities & Compatibilities of a Healthy Relationship

1. Trust

No matter how many challenges you face, you can prevail if your relationship is built upon trust.

2. Communication

No matter how many challenges you face, you can prevail if you have healthy communication.

3. Shared interests (and tolerated interests)

You love each other. Do you love other things together? Keep trying new stuff. And when your partner loves something you don’t, try it every now and then compromise.

4. Intimacy

It’s up to each couple to decide what “intimacy” means. But without it, it’s difficult to keep things functional. Physical and emotional intimacy is like glue. It bonds couples in ways that are difficult to describe yet simple to appreciate.

5. Commitment

It’s work. Accept this and commit to the process. If the process gets to be too much, scroll down to the final section on couples counseling and coaching to learn skills and tools to make it easier and more successful.

6. Willingness to compromise

You can’t always get what you want. But never forget that you already have what you want. You have a healthy relationship. That sometimes means compromise. But it’s an easy trade-off.  And, for the record, don’t keep a scorecard of compromises. That never ends well.

7. Independent lives without guilt or shame

Who are you away from your partner? You both need space to shine as an individual. It’s how you can grow and bring even more to your relationship. Give each other room to evolve.

8. Playfulness

Please have fun. Be present. Laugh, sing, and be silly. You’re doing the work. Be sure to balance it out with lots of playtime! Remember you can’t have playfulness if there are any built up resentments, so clear them first!

9. Forgiveness (and real apologies)

Both of you will screw up at times. Learn how to hold yourself accountable. Learn how to sincerely apologize, a heart felt apology. Just as importantly, cultivate a sense of mutual forgiveness. Your connection is bigger than the screw-ups. But it’s crucial to handle those screw-ups with maturity, transparency, and yes: forgiveness.

10. RESPECT

Here are a few of many ways respect plays out in a healthy relationship:

  • You listen without judgment hearing each other out—without interruptions
  • You create a bridge between the two different communication styles
  • You are able to collaborate to “Win-Win” outcomes
  • Sex is a not a contest or competition. It’s a collaboration.
  • You like or at least tolerate your partner’s family and close friends
  • You know what each others “Emotional Love Language” is and apply it
  • In all aspects of life, you’ve got each other’s back
  • Staying aware of power dynamics (age, race, gender, etc.)

The role of couples counseling in a healthy relationship

In case you haven’t noticed, relationships aren’t easy. They’re lots of work. But there’s good news: many, many times, they are worth all of that work, because they are educational mirrors for us to learn about life and ourselves. If we are willing to evolve as an individual then a relationship can be changing and very rewarding. Here’s more good news: You don’t have to do alone. You can seek help as a team.

Couples counseling and coaching is where incompatibilities and possibilities are revealed. It’s where compatibility is always in focus. Your regular therapy sessions can, and will, become an essential quality of your healthy relationship where you will learn how to bridge any differences, change any negative sabotaging earlier programming about relationships, and learn skills and tools to make your relationship more fulfilling.