10 Easy Steps for a Healthy RelationshipAuthor: Dr Grace Cornish Livingstone
Are you ready for real love? In this day and age of fast-paced and short-lived relationships, it's challenging and many times difficult, to find good, solid, effective, and useful, information that helps to build healthy and long-lasting romantic relationships. Whether you're single, married, divorced, or looking-to-be-married, these time-tested steps will help you and your current or future mate to create a long-lasting romantic bliss:
1) Always Be Your "True" Self
You are wonderfully and uniquely made by a loving Creator. If you find that you have to act or try to become someone you weren't born to be, in order to fulfill someone else's expectation, then something is seriously wrong. A true love will appreciate you for who you are and what you bring to the relationship, and vice-versa. If you feel as if you're being pressured to alter your character to do things you wouldn't usually do (drink, drugs, pre-mature sex, lie) so that the person will continue to see you, that's a certain sign that things are unhealthy. Your true love will gladly embrace you just for who you are—so don't be afraid, step out in faith and show your true self.
2) Develop Deep Communication with Each Other
A healthy relationship goes much deeper that a surface affair. Even though you may both look good arm-in-arm, or standing next to each other, whether at a concert, family reunion, Movie Theater, or at church, can you talk when you're alone? What's going on in your conversations—are they deep and meaningful or surface and bland? Do you discuss personal hopes, dreams and goals, or just talk about the weather and the plot to the latest drama? Can you count on each other to lend a listening ear, good advice, and undivided attention?
Good, honest, and deep conversation will keep you deeply connected. When in doubt, talk it out. Always keep the lines of communication open in your relationship.
3) Don't Ignore, but Explore Your Differences
Do your personalities blend well? Is one of you on the optimistic path while the other is on the pessimistic side of the road? Opposites may initially attract, but eventually they can repel each other. It's important that your personalities are compatible.
If one views life through rose colored glasses, while the other is always singing-the-blues, then you have to make some sort of adjustment to accommodate each other. The simple truth is oil and vinegar make an excellent salad dressing, but they don't mix well in romantic relationships, unless both personalities can explore each other and find some sort of balance. If you can adjust and love each other's personalities, regardless of any differences, and bring out the best when you're together, then this is a winning combo, and you could very well be a dynamic-duo in a life-long healthy relationship.
4) Share Similar Interest and Values
You don't have to have the exact interests. As a matter of fact, having diverse preferences can help you to share new and exciting things with each other. However, make sure you have at least a few common interests, so it won't be an ongoing battle over what to do and where to go to keep you both satisfied. You may have to compromise in some areas like sports, politics, movies, shopping, music, etc. Keep in mind that compromising doesn't mean depriving each other of their individual interests but instead it means participating in each other's interests.
5) Discuss Your Spiritual Beliefs Together
If you're not on common ground with your beliefs about who and what God means to each of you, this will eventually cause a rift in your relationship. Don't try to conceal your true beliefs and hope that it will all just one day fall in place—it won't. Make sure you talk about your faith honestly and openly with each other. There's a wise adage that states, "The couple that prays together, stays together."
6) Appreciate Each Other's Unique Body Temple
Let's face it, we're all built differently. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and shades. In order to have a healthy physical and emotional relationship, you must embrace and appreciate each other's total package. One of the worse things a couple can do to each other is to fantasize or try to fit their mate into someone else's body image. When you throw away preconceived "ideal body type" perceptions, you'll enjoy the true worth of your partner.
I remember years ago, one of my college friends, Nicolette, a five-foot-eight-inch, former beauty queen, adamantly refused to date any man under the six-foot mark. Her preconceived idea of the "ideal match" was "an athletic hunk who would be paid well for playing ball—footfall, basketball, or baseball would qualify him—as long as he had the height, the muscles, and the billfold." Well, after many heartbreaks, shallow relationships, and adopting a completely new outlook on life, she eagerly reports that she has been very happily married to a five-foot-five-inch dentist for over five years and "has since been blessed with two wonderful children to complete her healthy marriage."
Nicolette would have missed out on the love of her life had she remained stuck with false perceptions. Don't let this happen to you. Admire, appreciate, and enjoy your companion's body temple.
7) Talk About "The S-&M Factor" (Sex & Money)
Two of the biggest destroyers of healthy relationships are the misuse, abuse, lack of or over-use of sex and money (the S & M Factor). Both are very important and very personal in your love life. Yet, unfortunately, most couples make the mistake of not setting quality time aside early in their relationship to discuss these two vital components. To put it bluntly, "You've got to know where you're heading, before you get to the bedding; and know what you're spending before it gets beyond mending."
In deep romantic relationships, there is a world of difference between "having sex" and "making love," just as there is a major difference between being "involved" and "being in love." The misuse of sex, just like the misuse of money, causes major turbulence in relationships. These can be dangerous influences which overwhelm your relationship; or they can be healthy tools for intimacy and success. It's up to both you and your partner to know what sex and money means to each of you, and to make sure that you share your beliefs and feelings with each other. Otherwise, both the sex and money issues can become major conflicts which will destroy even the deepest love.
8) Try to Get Along With Each Other's Friends-n-Families
Although your happiness ultimately depends on how well the two of you get along with each other, some input from loved ones can be frosting on the cake. Do you have a healthy interaction with each other's close associates? Make sure you ask some supportive family members and/or dear friends their opinion about your choice in mate. If the advice is not what you want to hear, examine it closely, evaluate the source, pray about it, and make up your own mind anyway. Make sure you also meet your mate's family and closest friends, and discreetly observe their interactions with each other. Look if there is any dysfunctional family pattern that you need to address and get help with. There is a wise old saying, "Show me your company, I'll tell you who you are." Chances are, if your partner has a healthy interaction with loved ones, you will also get the same treatment—and so much more!
9) Stay Away From Negative People
It's important to make a special note here, that although the interactions of relatives and friends can be a plus in building a healthy relationship, some, unfortunately, can also be a minus. If you face unhealthy interference and discouragement from loved ones because of their personal insecurities, don't let them have any influence in your relationship. Both you and your mate must be on the same page and decide to keep negative people out of your personal love life in order to love and grow together in a harmonious, healthy relationship.
10) Learn to Laugh Together
This one doesn't need much explanation—if there's no joy, there's very little hope. Laughter keeps love alive. Find something that you can both get a good hearty laugh from. Here's a little secret that works wonders: A good sense of humor and a pleasant disposition has a magnetic attraction that makes people always want to be in your presence. How can that special person resist your gorgeous smile and sparkling eyes? Go ahead, laugh a bit—have fun and enjoy!
There you have it—the practical, useful and effective steps that will surely enhance your current or future relationship. You deserve to have an enjoyable, exciting, and loving healthy relationship with someone who loves you, just for who you are. You are worth it!
Dr. Grace Cornish Livingstone, on-air staff psychologist for the former Queen Latifah TV show, is one of America’s foremost relationship consultants. She is an award-winning, bestselling author of ten popular books, including 10 Bad Choices, The Band-Aid Bond, The Sacred Bond and You Deserve Healthy Love, Sis! Dr. Grace is currently the popular relationship columnist for the London-based Pride magazine. For Dr. Grace Cornish healthy relationship books and healthy relationship CDs visit www.myhealthylove.com
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