By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC
As counselors, we spend a lot of time teaching people the “red flags” of unhealthy relationships. This is a very important skill to help you make smart choices about with whom you spend your time. However, what if you haven’t had good examples of a quality relationships? Maybe most of your own experiences haven’t been that great. What signs do you look for to know if you have a strong relationship?
We are talking about marriage and significant others; although, many of the same traits can apply to other types of relationships as well. We are social creatures, made to have relationships with one another. Even those most introverted of us (I’m raising my hand!) still need quality relationships with others. In the counseling world we call these “attachments”. None of us should be alone, we all need to be attached to other people. So, what makes for a good attachment?
Traits of a Strong Relationship:
1. Emotional safety. What does this mean? Emotional safety means that you can feel how you feel without fear of retaliation or manipulation. You also know that when you are hurting, the other person will soothe you, and you do the same for them. All the other traits on this list create emotional safety.
2. Reciprocity. Healthy relationships have a balance – no one person is giving all the time, and no one person is receiving all the time. Of course, there are seasons in relationships, and things aren’t always exactly even. However, when looking overall at the relationship, there should be a balance of give and take.
3. Team mentality. Marriage is a team sport. You both must work together for the good of the team, not for yourself. Healthy relationships work on this principal, and partners treat each other as equal members of the team.
4. Forgiveness. No one is perfect. Even when we don’t want to, we will hurt each other. Strong relationships include forgiveness for each other when we mess up. Forgiveness means choosing not to be angry anymore, and is really more for the person who was wronged. Holding onto anger and resentment will poison your marriage.
5. Investing time. A strong marriage does not just happen. Good relationships require an investment of time. You have to schedule time to do fun things together, talk together, and have sex. Yes, sometimes you need to actually schedule sex. You put other things in your calendar and block off time – your marriage is more valuable than those things. Make time for each other.
6. Commitment. We live in a broken, messed up world. Difficult things will happen to all of us. Strong relationships include commitment to each other even when things aren’t fun or easy. In healthy marriages, each spouse chooses to stay committed every day.
7. Speaking well of one another. Don’t tear down your spouse to other people. Chances are, if someone is complaining about their spouse, they likely aren’t talking to their spouse about it. This is never helpful. Everyone wants to feel respected – partners with strong relationships demonstrate that respect by not talking badly about each other.
8. Vulnerability. Secure relationships include two people who can share hard things with each other. Emotional attachments grow deeper when we can reveal our weaknesses, fears, and hurts, and experience our partner’s loving response. Safe relationships include vulnerability.
9. Trust. Knowing you can believe what your spouse says is essential. Trust also involves knowing that your partner values your relationship and sets it as a priority. People in emotionally strong relationships believe their partner cares about them and the marriage.
10. Supporting each other. Strong relationships include both spouses supporting each other, cheering each other on, and celebrating victories with one another. As a team, a win for one is a win for both. Emotional connection grows with mutual support.
Do You Have A Healthy Relationship?
Can you see the above list in your marriage? Are there areas you could improve? If your marriage could use a little help, please contact us for marriage counseling. The sooner you come in, the better off your relationship will be. Please don’t wait until things are totally awful – come in sooner and learn new skills to make your marriage stronger than ever.
Relationship Counseling in Ambler, PA
At Lime Tree Counseling, our team of therapists specializes in marriage therapy, and we want to help you and your spouse develop a stronger emotional attachment. Send us a message and get scheduled for your initial session today. Let’s get started making a stronger relationship!
We also are experts in trauma counseling, including emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and EMDR therapy. Additionally, we focus on anxiety treatment. Please contact us and get started improving your emotional wellness today!