Relationships make up such an important element of our lives, especially with our significant other.
A good relationship can make you feel more confident, supported and cherished. Research also indicates that positive spousal relationships can benefit our physical and mental health.
According to Relationships Australia, there are four phases of a long-term relationships.
- Initial “In love” phase – where you idealise each other and have a tendency to wear rose-tinted glasses.
- Recognising Differences – where you begin to become aware of each other’s differences and develop a more realistic view of the other person.
- Independence – where you regain your sense of self, reestablishing individual wants and needs outside the relationship.
- Together by choice – where you find each other again, going from being “in love” to “loving” and there is a deepening of the relationship.
It goes without saying that every relationship faces struggles and challenges, such as illness, financial stress, managing a growing family, etc. However, it is the strength of your relationship that determines how well you navigate these difficult times.
So what makes a good relationship?
Respect, honesty, trust and love are obvious key elements of a healthy relationship. However, it also takes:
- Open communication – being able to talk about feelings and issues in a healthy and constructive manner.
- Shared values and goals – being on the same page when it comes to the big picture of life is extremely important.
- Independence – neither person should lose themselves in the relationship or be co-dependent. It’s important to maintain a healthy sense of identity through your own interests and goals.
- Support – reciprocal support of each other’s goals, interests, family and friendship ties are all important.
- Equal contribution to the relationship – each person brings their own strengths and contributions the partnership. It’s also important that those are recognised.
- Equal power – in a true partnership, no one is the “boss”. Equal input and say into decision making around things that impact the couple and/or family unit.
- An absence of abuse – whether it be physical, sexual, mental, emotional or financial, abuse of any type in a relationship is unhealthy and should not be tolerated.
If you would like advice about your relationship or just want some information to help make it stronger, the Relationships Australia website is a great place to start.