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5 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship

5 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship

Relationships are risky. No matter how well you think you know the other person, there is no guarantee you won’t get hurt. In fact, in the best of relationships, couples disappoint or hurt each other from time to time. No secret there. Most of us can deal with that. In the end, we are imperfect people forming imperfect relationships.

However, repeated or severe hurt can really threaten security in a relationship. Lies, betrayal, selfishness, or controlling behavior will shake the foundation. What foundation am I talking about?

I’m talking about trust.

If you want a healthy relationship, you have to work hard on building trust between you. This takes time and effort by both sides. One cannot do the work of two. It never works that way. A mutual effort is needed.

In a healthy relationship, couples value trust and protect it together. They build on this foundation by making certain agreements.

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So how do you know if your relationship has what it takes?  Check this out.

1. You allow each other space to be yourself

Relationships need space for each person to breathe. If you give up too much of yourself you will suffocate! Healthy couples don’t allow this to happen. Instead, they accept each other. They also encourage and support the expression of these individual differences. This includes accommodating each other’s need for personal time.

I enjoy sports, rock n’ roll, and contemporary movies. My wife prefers nature walks, 80s music, and classic movies. I don’t try to get her to be like me, nor does she try to get me to change. We accept our differences and enter each other’s world occasionally.

In a healthy relationship, support is mutual. Honoring personal boundaries shows respect. When you feel accepted, respected, and supported by your partner, the relationship is solid.

2. You keep your relationship exclusive

Another sign of a healthy relationship is an agreement couples make to keep their relationship exclusive. They establish boundaries to keep private the love and romance they share. These couples avoid getting into compromising relationships that threaten the security of their bond.

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Affairs are a big threat today in our culture. Ashley Madison is one of many examples. The existence of an affair, even though hidden, shifts a relationship from exclusive to inclusive. A mysterious third party now enters sacred territory. When an affair is exposed, it severely damages the relationship. I help couples recover from an affair. Trust me, you do not want to be in that arena!

If you want your relationship to be healthy, make a mutual agreement to keep sacred the love you have for each other. When it comes to romance and matters of the heart, keep it exclusive. Don’t allow anyone but your mate in that space.

3. You make a regular investment in the relationship

There is an easy way to tell if a couple has a healthy relationship: their calendar. These couples have regular date nights and occasional weekends away. They know this is money well invested (notice I didn’t say spent).

In my work with couples, I encourage them to have planned time and pockets of time. Planned time as I already described is on your calendar. Pockets of time pop up during the day or week and allow you a small break to connect. You can use it to share a latte at Starbucks or jump in the sack for a quickie!

The investment healthy couples make is not only time and money. They also invest in a daily effort to stay tuned in to each other. These couples find ways to check in with each other during the day.

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My wife and I do the occasional text and phone call. Recently, I was blindsided by a major problem that happened at work. During a chat with my wife, she stepped away from her desk, listened to me unload, and talked me off the ledge with her calm and supportive voice.

The effort to stay tuned in accomplishes several things. It allows you to know what’s going on with your partner. It gives you an opportunity to offer support. Also, knowing that you have each other’s back feels good!

4. You are friends and lovers

Balancing friendship and romance is a definite sign you have a healthy relationship. Maintaining laughter, having a sense of humor, with your partner pumps oxygen into the relationship. Nothing better than a good laugh together to work out stress and keep things in perspective. Isn’t that what friends enjoy doing?

A sense of adventure is also good too! Do you do fun things together? When was the last time you tried something new together? One of the couples I work with started taking dance lessons. Totally new territory for them. They really enjoy learning something new together. It has been great for the relationship!

When we travel, we love to hit the backroads and see what surprises come up along the way. Some of the best memories my wife and I have happen when we go off-roading.

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Healthy couples also keep the hunt alive in their relationship. They still flirt with each other, sending sexual cues back and forth. Romance remains a front-burner activity, getting plenty of action to satisfy each other’s need for romance.

5. You talk well, and listen better

People in a healthy relationship know how to communicate really well. They know that listening is the differentiator in good communication. If you know the art of listening and validating your partner, you are light years ahead of most couples.

People who communicate poorly talk over each other, do not listen well, react in a defensive manner, and let their emotions get out of control. If you want a healthy relationship, communicate with this approach in mind:

  • Slow down when you talk.
  • Keep your emotions in check.
  • Listen to what your partner says.
  • Summarize what you hear and validate feelings.
  • Avoid using the word “but” too quickly or often.
  • Give each other the courtesy of being heard and understood.

Featured photo credit: Dollar Photo Club via dollarphotoclub.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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