As humans, we continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives. Our needs change, our desires shift, some of our values increase while others diminish. This growth and change in our lives inevitably impacts our relationships because just like other aspects of our life, our relationships change as we change.
This is part of the reason why it can become difficult to sort out what are signs of a healthy relationship and what are signs of a relationship that needs improving. Throughout the course of this blog post I will help you distinguish these signs and offer strategies to improve those relationships that feel stagnant and need enhancing.
Signs and Qualities of A Healthy Relationship
Below is a list of the most essential signs and qualities of a healthy relationship:
- Trust: a healthy relationship must be built on a foundation of trust.
- Communication: there is open and honest communication, partners work to adapt and understand the others communication style.
- Intimacy: physical and emotional intimacy is like glue that keeps a relationship strong, it is up to the couple to decide what intimacy means to them.
- Commitment: relationships require effort from both sides, commit to each other to put in that effort.
- Willingness to compromise: this doesn’t mean compromising every time but rather realizing when to compromise.
- Shared interests: you love each one another but it’s important to love other things together, whether that’s Sunday morning coffee with each other or going hiking together.
- Independent aspects of their lives: having things you do on your own allows you to have space to grow as an individual and bring more to your relationship as a result.
- Playfulness: be sure to have fun in your relationship, be silly and be present.
- Respect: this comes in many different forms like listening without interrupting, understanding your partner’s communication style, and acknowledging aspects of their lives other than your relationship. Respect is essential to a strong and healthy relationship.
If the Signs Aren’t There
Did you read through the list of healthy signs and realize your relationship was missing some? If that’s the case, your relationship is likely in need of an improvement. Other ways you can tell a change is needed are an increase in criticism and judgement, unwillingness to forgive, or spending less time together. If you were missing signs and/or recognize the ones just mentioned, it is time to learn strategies to improve your relationship.
How to Implement Change and Achieve Improvement
Weekly Couples Meeting
Have weekly couple meetings just for the needs and issues of running a home, like finances. Decide prior to starting the meeting how long it will be and know that not everything will be resolved, there will likely need to be follow up discussions. Engage in these meetings without criticism and with a lot of active listening, this will allow you to find common ground in collaboration.
Daily Time to Connect
Put aside time each evening when you two can be alone to work on your relationship. This time can be about 15 minutes and is where you will learn more skills to improve your relationship through ways such as reading a relationship book together. In this time only discuss what you are learning and how it applies to your relationship. After the meeting, start integrating what is being learned and discuss how this is going in the next meeting without criticism.
Have a date night or day once a week. Have each partner create a list of at home or out of home activities they would like to do and then share it with each other. The couple will then take turns taking each other on dates/activities, one will choose from the list and make plans accordingly while the partner who made the list just needs to show up and appreciate the others efforts.
These strategies will significantly help improve your relationship and help you work towards cultivating a healthy one. If you’re looking for other methods as well, couples counselling is also very effective in working to improve relationships. Learn more about couples counselling by reading our blog or by booking a consultation.