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by Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

It’s that time – New Year’s Resolution time! If we are honest, most of us don’t make them, and if we do, we rarely last past the middle of January. We all know of people (or maybe ourselves!) who resolve to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, etc. Do you know that January is the busiest month for gym memberships? All of those goals are good ones – but what about your emotional health? How are your relationships? Do you need a relationship checkup for 2020? Relationships aren’t optional in life. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all need other people.

Signs of Healthy Relationships

Here are six signs of a healthy relationship. We are talking about marriages and dating relationships, but also friendships. Ask yourself if you are getting these things out of your relationships, and also if you are GIVING these. No matter how the other person chooses to behave, you are responsible for being a good friend or spouse.

  • Reciprocity. Healthy relationships are balanced; no one person has more control than the other, and both people work for the mutual benefit of both people. Have you ever had a friend that will gladly take all your help, but when you need a hand, she’s always unavailable? Or maybe you gladly take care of your spouse when they are sick, but your spouse won’t run to the store to get you more cough syrup? These are examples of relationships with no reciprocity. Relationships are a team sport – and both people need to have a mindset that they are no more important than the other, and that when one person supports the other, it benefits the team.
  • Healthy conflict. Let’s be real: all relationships have conflict. In fact, if a couple comes into my office and says they never fight, I’m concerned. Disagreements should not be feared. How you respond and work through them is what matters. Again, relationships are a team sport. In order to have healthy conflict, both people need to have a proper perspective – that the conflict is really both people vs. the issue, not person vs. person. Disagreements should be talked through without yelling, name calling & swearing. Both people need to use their listening skills – not listening to respond, but to truly hear and understand the other person. We learn to manage conflict as kids in the house in which we grew up. Often this means we don’t know any different ways to work through issues. If you didn’t have a great example, you need to work on learning different ways to manage conflict. When challenges are navigated well, it actually deepens connection to one another, and creates more emotional safety. Basically, you are less afraid of conflict next time, because you know that you both can work through it without losing the relationship.
  • Don’t control other people. Most humans like to be in control, and this often means controlling other people in our life. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Controlling others gets you nothing, other than a lot of relationship stress. Give other people the freedom to make their own choices. You might not always like them, you might even be hurt or disappointed, but that’s your job to deal with those emotions. Don’t emotionally manipulate others to get what you want.
  • Don’t let other people control you. Just as you need to give other people freedom to make your own choices – realize you need to make your own decisions too. If you are making choices to keep others happy, you are letting other people control you. “If I don’t go to that party, she will be so mad at me.” “If we leave early to put the kids to bed, we will never hear the end of it.” If you have thoughts like this – you are not in control, you are letting other people run your life. Make your own choices, set your own boundaries.
  • Understand no one is perfect, even you. We all make mistakes. All of us, even you. We need to see experiences through that understanding. Did your spouse back the car into a mailbox? Did your friend not make dessert for the potluck dinner because she had a sick kid? Life happens. You are just as likely to do these things as anyone else. Embrace grace for everyone.
  • Empathy – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what they feel and experience. Empathy is the common thread in all of these traits of good relationships. We must be able to think of other people and how they are experiencing life in order to love them well. Some of us are naturally better at this than others. However, those of you that are saying, “That’s just not me” – you can learn to be more empathetic. Check out our other blog post on “How to build more empathy.”

Grow Healthy Relationships in Ambler, PA

Our experienced team of therapists at Lime Tree Counseling love helping people learn to build strong, healthy relationships. If these traits seem foreign to you – please reach out to us today. We would love to talk with you and schedule an appointment. We also offer a free 15-minute phone consult if you’re not so sure about counseling.

Our team specializes in trauma therapy, specifically emotional abuse and sexual abuse. We also focus on anxiety treatment, marriage counseling, and multicultural counseling. Please contact us today. We want to help you live life as you were made to live!

Online Therapy in Pennsylvania

Online therapy is a great option for those PA residents that want to work with us, but are too far from our office. Other people who just find scheduling sessions difficult because of childcare or other needs benefit from online counseling. Learn more about online counseling on our website. Right now mental health laws only allow us to offer online services to people in the state in which we are licensed, in our case, Pennsylvania.