Relationships are a lot of work, but in a healthy committed relationship, you also enjoy many benefits as you walk the journey of life together. What are possibly the five most important things in any relationship?
You’ve probably heard people say that communication is the key. If you aren’t having clear, productive conversation about things, there might be assumptions that cause damage, or hurts caused unnecessarily. What are some categories you need to communicate consistently about?
Communicate about needs
You both have needs in the relationship, and those needs may change with different seasons and situations. Communicate about what you’re experiencing and invite the other to come up with solutions with you.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
Communicate about dreams
A healthy relationship allows for both individuals to have their own dreams, as well as dreams they want to see come to fruition together. Talking about these dreams can not only be fun, but also builds the relationship as you think together about the future.
Communicate about goals
Similarly, communicating about goals allows the other to see how they fit into life together by supporting the other’s work toward major goals – and even smaller goals. This can be very rewarding to see your partner achieve wins and know you were cheering them on along the way.
Another vital aspect of relationships is having respect for one another. Respect comes in many forms, including the words you use, the actions you take, the time and attention you give to listening and empathizing, and the way you speak or think about your partner when they aren’t even around. Respect has many levels, and while no one is perfect at this all of the time, there are rules for creating respectful habits.
Communicate boundaries freely
Many people grow up with unhealthy patterns regarding boundaries. Either they had people abuse their boundaries, they never learned how to form them, or they were not modelled healthy boundaries by others. Counseling may help if you suspect you or your partner has trouble with forming boundaries.
Don’t violate boundaries
When you hear your partner talk about a boundary, take note and respect them about that. Don’t dismiss them because it’s not as important to you. Ask them if you need more explanation, but don’t poke at their boundaries for “fun.”
Another aspect of respect is support. Your verbal support and supportive actions can make your partner feel loved, confident, and fulfilled when moving toward a goal. Also, you can be a great source of comfort in a hard time.
Keep their privacy
If you know something was intended to be kept between you, or probably should be, don’t talk to anyone else about it. This can violate your partner’s trust if they said something in confidence and you go and tell a bunch of people. Don’t justify gossip. At the same time, if you think your partner may be in danger of hurting themselves, or others, that’s different and you should reach out for help to the proper authorities.
Make your relationship a safe place
Don’t belittle your partner, make them feel unsafe in your presence physically or mentally and emotionally, or otherwise violate the trust you establish between yourselves. If your partner does something that makes you feel unsafe, if it’s something you think they would be able to change, communicate about it; if they are doing something that is threatening your well-being, you may need to leave the situation, even permanently, and recommend they get counseling and help.
Work to keep things new and exciting
This doesn’t always just easily happen for months and years on end; you may need to become intentional at times to create some excitement in your relationship. Discover somewhere new locally that you’ve never been – a waterfall, an art studio that hosts couples painting sessions, a woodworks craft night, a new restaurant or coffee shop, a festival or farmer’s market date to share. Experiences can lead to feeling close and discovering new things. Or try something new for the bedroom.
Don’t fall into routines all of the time
If you always are intimate on Saturday nights – start something on a different day, at a random time, to totally break the routine. If you always do the same things, in the same order, decide to try to something new – whether that’s for dinner, a date, or just how you’ll spend the weekend. Routines sustain us, but breaking routine every now and then can help things.
Take the time to celebrate each others’ successes
Leave little notes to give encouragement and show affection. Give each other a little party to celebrate success. Get a little just because gift for your partner and make up a reason. This can ignite passion in little ways that add up.
Like respect, loyalty can be shown in many different fashions – whether it is kindness and support in a conversation, assumptions giving the benefit of the doubt, and behavior being above reproach.
Don’t put yourself in questionable circumstances
The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.
It may be obvious, but if you’re going out to dinner alone with people whom your partner would be jealous of, staying out late and using work as an excuse, texting another all hours of the night, or getting secret calls, your partner has reason to question your loyalty. Placing healthy boundaries and reassuring your spouse by your conduct as well as words that there aren’t major secrets between you quells fears and suspicions.
Don’t give your partner a reason to doubt your word
Keep your promises, and don’t make empty ones. Honor your commitments. Don’t hide things or hold back things.
Don’t entertain the idea of another
That path only leads one place and if you’re in a committed relationship or marriage, there’s no place for another.
Do let your partner know you are still committed
Voice your commitment to them – not just on your wedding day in vows, but in more everyday situations and in different ways, whether a letter, texts, verbally, or by your actions. After all, this is another way to say, “I love you.”