What is a healthy relationship?

Healthy Relationships take effort and knowing ones “love language” can help.

The music and movie industry fills our heads with fantasy and adventure when it comes to relationships. Many relationships portrayed in movies and television is about the drama of controlling, avoiding or protecting other characters. A healthy relationship is not about any of these mannerisms.

Michigan State University Extension says that a healthy relationship can happen when both individuals are emotionally responsible. Both individuals need to be able to manage their own emotions; meaning having the ability to read, understand and communicate their own feelings and needs without using blame, sulking or other manipulative forms of communication. When people don’t take responsibility for their own feelings, some tend to try to make the other person responsible for their own happiness, emotional safety or self-worth, which often leads to dysfunction.

Dysfunctional relationships are ones where one person may feel intimidated, minimized, isolated or pressured. Relationships flourish when respect, trust, acceptance, compassion, empathy and playfulness are expressed. In a healthy relationship there is an understanding that conflicts will happen but both parties maintain the intent to problem solve, rather than avoid, blame or control. Partners in healthy relationships understand the need for outside interests and support from family and friends.

There are a variety of means in which one can communicate love. Author and marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, in his book entitled The Five Love Languages, describes five different ways that people express and respond to love. Chapman has written books based on these five languages for parent-child relationships too. Often all five languages can be used, but often a person is drawn to appreciate or respond to one language. The languages are as follows:

  1.  Personal gifts: Small inexpensive gifts that show you are paying attention to their needs and support them.
  2. Positive talk/affirmations: Praise, encouragement, cheerleader, motivator
  3. Acts of service: Cleaning, cooking, running errands
  4. Quality time: Uninterrupted time
  5. Personal touch: Hugs, holding hands, high fives

In closing, ask yourself these questions: Does your loved one buy you personal gifts? Does he/she give you positive feedback and praise? Does he/she help you without you having to ask and want to spend time with you? Now ask yourself when was the last time you did all of this for the people you love? Relationships take a time and effort. If someone makes you feel loved and supported, tell them thank you, but more importantly show them you are thankful.

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