Admit it or not, relationships with others are important to us as human beings. Relationships with parents, siblings, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, professors, roommates, and classmates can bring joy and takes on added significance in our lives. We learn that it is often in or through intimate relationships that our romantic, companionship, and intimacy needs will be met.
It is no wonder then, that we find ourselves preoccupied or consumed with pursuing, maintaining, ending, and recovering from the loss of such relationships. While each of these stages of relationships can be difficult and challenging, it is common when relationships end or “don't work out” that we struggle the most.
All couples experience problems in one form or another -- it's part of sharing your life with another human being. The difference between healthy relationships that work, and those that don't, is how well couples deal with the challenges and problems they face in their life together.
Create a Healthy Relationship
There are reliable tools that can be used to create a healthy relationship, many of which have not been taught in our culture.
If you want to have a really healthy relationship, follow these simple guidelines:
Do not expect anyone to be responsible for your happiness. Too often, relationships fail because someone is unhappy and blames their partner for making them feel that way. Make yourself happy first, and then share his or her happiness.
Forgive one another. Forgiveness is a process of ending your anger or resentment towards another individual. It can have the power to transcend all offenses, great and small, and learning to forgive another takes patience, honesty, and respect. When sincerely given freely in a relationship, forgiveness may heal relationships that are suffering. Forgiveness is an act of humility, not one of haughty feelings.
Do not do anything for your partner if it comes with an expectation of reciprocation. The things you do for your partner must always be done because you chose to do them and you wanted to do them. Do not hold your “good deeds” over their head at a later time. Keeping score in a relationship will never work: a person is less likely to notice and value all the contributions of their partner as much as their own.
Be Responsible. Responsible means that you have the ability to respond. It does not mean you are to blame. If you've been rude to your partner, own up to it, and get try to think of ways how you might do it differently and in a positive manner next time. If you are unhappy in your relationship, make an effort to learn how you might create a better relationship for yourself rather than try to change your partner.
Approach your relationship as a learning experience. Each one has important information for you to learn. When a relationship is not working, there is usually a familiar way that we feel while in it. We are attracted to the partner with whom we can learn the most, and sometimes the lesson is to let go of a relationship that no longer serves us. A truly healthy relationship will consist of both partners who are interested in learning and expanding a relationship so that it continues to improve.
Research has shown that people in supportive, loving relationships are more likely to feel healthier, happier, less stress and satisfied with their lives and less likely to have mental or physical health problems or to do things that are bad for their health. People in supportive, loving relationships help each other practically as well as emotionally. Supportive partners share the good times and help each other through the tough ones. Talking and listening is probably the most important skills in a relationship. There'll always be tensions and disagreements, but if you can communicate well, you can overcome almost any problem.