We all have heard about healthy relationships and unhealthy ones. We know what we prefer – even if we’re not fully aware of what exactly makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy.
A relationship doesn’t have to be just between partners; we establish relationships with our children, parents, our partner’s parents, and with friends.
Let’s look at the different aspects of what healthy relationship challenges are all about.
What is a healthy relationship?
For a couple, a healthy relationship involves several aspects related to the couple as a whole and to each individual partner. In a healthy relationship, each partner respects the other’s contributions to the partnership. There is honesty, trust, and open communication, where both share individual and common concerns. There is a balance in power and a mutual give and take.
Signs of a healthy relationship
#1: Good communication
Good communication is of paramount importance in a healthy relationship. Of course, each partner might think differently about various matters. Being able to express how you feel will not only help make sure you’re both rowing in the same direction but will also let you know when one has to row while the other rests or, when there is a conflict, that you might have to rethink your rowing plan. Respectfully talking to your spouse is the basis of a healthy relationship.
Being connected to your partner helps you feel safe. The connection goes hand in hand with good communication; however, the connection comes from a deeper level. Whenever we connect with another person, we feel safe and grounded. We share the same focus.
When we don’t connect with someone we might be forcing a relationship that isn’t developing naturally. You shouldn’t need to make an effort to connect to the person you’re creating a family with.
Trust is the base of any healthy relationship. Being able to trust, and to know the other person has your best interests at heart, is what makes you feel safe and ‘relationship-worthy’. If you don’t trust your partner there’s something unhealthy in the relationship you’re trying to establish.
If this is the case, think about what has happened to trust. Has something happened to break the bond? Or was it never there? If trust has been broken in some way, talking about it with a relationship expert might help you reestablish the trust between you.
Knowing each other’s priorities – as an individual and as a couple – will help each of you support, and be supported by, your partner. Although your priorities might not be the same as your partner’s, it’s important to know about them so you can help your ‘other half’ achieve important goals, and try not to get frustrated because your priorities are different.
That’s why it’s important to establish family and individual priorities, so they don’t collide. It’s also a good idea to establish the degree of importance priorities have, to make sure you can keep tension to a minimum.
Remember, always go back to our #1 sign – Good Communication. The main pillar of a strong relationship is to talk about basically everything that’s important to each partner, so you can both move forward and avoid conflict.
The fulfillment of our sexual needs is a biological top priority. Intimacy in a relationship is very important; in most couples, both partners need to have a good sex life to feel fulfilled. Spending time with each other and making sure you both feel sexually fulfilled is a key aspect of most relationships.
Compared with big words like ‘trust’, ‘connection’ and ‘good communication’, gratitude might not seem like the most powerful of healthy relationships tips. It’s crucial that partners let one another know how grateful they are for what the other does, and how each improves the other’s life.
Sometimes we take gratitude for granted because, as partners, we do things for each other all the time. When we let our partners know how they make us feel, it really helps to keep the relationship healthy.
Being empathetic is key to avoiding relationship problems. It’s also essential to creating a strong bond, not only with your partner but with others: your children, your parents, or your inlaws. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes helps you understand the differences between you and the reasons for the other person’s behavior. It helps to ask: How does the other person feel when I behave like this? How would I feel if my partner, my mother or my father behaved in a specific way towards me?
Being able to see ourselves from the other person’s perspective helps us build strong and healthy relationships.
Healthy relationship challenges – boundaries
Establishing healthy boundaries can be challenging but, is a must when developing and maintaining a healthy relationship. Finding time to sit down and talk about each other’s relationship challenges such as boundaries, can be difficult. Discuss your feelings about boundaries and why they are important to you. Revisit them as often as any member of the family needs to.
Many couples wrongly think that if a person really loves someone there shouldn’t be any boundaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your relationship with your romantic partner is where you should feel safest and well respected.
What relationship considerations must be taken into account when becoming a parent?
Becoming a parent is the greatest thing that can happen to a person. It will also be the most transforming experience any individual goes through.
No matter how prepared you are for parenthood, or whatever your friends or relatives have told you about it, your experience will be unique. That’s because they are not you; they are not in a relationship with your partner and they aren’t parenting your child.
The transformation of becoming a parent is a big challenge in itself. To make sure you support each other as you navigate this new stage in your lives, there are several things to take into account:
- Your partner has never done this before. Even if your partner has other children, this is a new situation and everyone needs time to adapt. Be kind and gentle to each other. Both of you are doing your best. If something is not working go back to the above tips on healthy relationships. You can read more information in How Does Dad Manage An Expanding Family?
- You’ve never done this before. Women, especially, tend to be quite harsh on themselves. Self love is the number one type of love necessary to establish healthy relationships with others. Are you mothering daughters? Make sure you build a strong, healthy relationship with them and set a good example of self love. Read more in What Daughters Need From Their Mothers – 9 Inspirational Tips
- The arrival of a new baby affects others too. Although the mother and the father are the main adults affected by this new situation, there are also grandparents and maybe other children. Everyone needs to be taken into consideration and even though I’m certainly not telling you to put their needs before yours but, it’s important to support their needs. If you’re not feeling well supported or even uncomfortable with how relationships are developing, make sure you talk about it with your partner first and with others after.
How do healthy relationships affect parenting?
All the time you invest in maintaining a healthy relationship will deliver benefits when you become parents. Your lives, schedules, and rhythms will be shaken to the core in any case. If you’re living in an unhealthy relationship, the arrival of a new family member won’t make things easier.
New parents don’t have all the answers, no matter how healthy their relationship is. If your relationship is healthy, however, you’ll be able to adapt more quickly and manage any challenging situation much better.
What makes a good family relationship?
Raising children will probably be your biggest contribution to the world.
Most parents will agree that, although it’s challenging, parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve ever had. For kids to lead a life filled with joy it’s important that both parents are on the same page with regard to parenting.
The same things that make a healthy relationship between a couple also apply to relationships with the rest of the family.
Create an atmosphere of trust, where everyone feels safe to talk about their needs and worries. When parents treat each other with respect, not only are they honoring their partner, but they’re also setting a good example to their children and showing them the way to establish healthy relationships with others as they grow.
What is toxic parenting?
Toxic parenting involves a very unhealthy relationship between parents and their children.
It usually affects children negatively, as parents treat their children in a very harmful way. Toxic parenting inflicts fear, guilt, and insecurities on the children. Toxic parents are over-critical about what their children do and they’re never satisfied with their kids’ achievements.
Research shows that toxic parenting is usually a reflection of people having been brought up by toxic parents themselves and not being able to recognize the damage inflicted on them. As a result, they tend to repeat the toxic behavior with their children.
You can read more in 3 Toxic Parenting Mindsets And How To Turn Them Around.