Conventional wisdom describes a relationship as two people uniting to share their life with each other. It’s a beautiful description but an incomplete one. A relationship is also about two people who come together to create a new life with each other. Learning how to have a healthy relationship begins with learning about the kind of life you want to build together.
If we examine the life of someone who is happy, healthy, and fulfilled, we would find that they live by a certain code with a list of habits, goals and objectives that promote a good life.
Conversely, people who are unhappy and unhealthy live dangerously and uncontrollably. They are, to some degree, hedonistic and a slave to their past trauma and ferocious desire.
When thinking about my own past relationships, I am reminded of times when aimlessness, poor communication and non-existing boundaries ruined my happiness and the sanctity of my relationships.
At the same time, I can attribute some of the best moments in my relationships to having shared goals, good communication and healthy boundaries with my partners that served our commitment.
However, all this would be asinine if we don’t talk about ourselves.
Relationships that fail are ones that were created to fill a void within one or both partners.
You should not enter a relationship with significant deficits as a person.
This leads to monumental problems, such as:
- Unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
- Unrealistic expectations.
I can attest to this because I have tried to use relationships as an escape from my unhappiness as a person.
Whether it be due to the direction my life was going or due to a lack of purpose, I was not happy enough with myself.
What I learned, later on, was that a prerequisite for healthy relationships is for both partners to be happy enough as individuals.
To feel happy enough as a single person will require you to pursue a life of balance.
You would have to be working towards growing as an individual.
This would amount to having goals, earning a living, educating yourself, exercising and eating well to fuel your body, developing a spiritual routine and socializing with good people whenever you can.
Working on all these things will assist you in developing an identity of your own.
When people are content with who they are, their level of self-respect grows.
This influences the decisions they make and the boundaries they have.
While this process occurs, a side effect takes place in the form of confidence building.
A person who has worked hard to become a competent, strong and developed individual has earned a significant amount of confidence.
Put all of these things together and you’ll find yourself in one of the happiest spaces you’ve been in.
At the same time, you become more attractive to others which opens more doors for you to pursue a romantic partner.
The tools developed during this stage of your life will bleed directly into your relationships.
In saying that, if you want to have a healthy relationship that lasts a lifetime, start by improving yourself as an individual.
Put in the hard work to realize your true potential and it will prepare you for the work required to have a healthy relationship.
I look at a relationship as a place to give.
When researching the happiest and most fulfilled people, I’ve found one common denominator.
They always prioritized the act of service.
When studying holy books like the Bible, Torah, Quraan and so forth, they all share a common message and that is to be of good service to the people around you.
To do good is paramount to the human experience.
These holy books also place an emphasis and importance on the realization of oneself.
They prescribe rules, boundaries and lifestyle blueprints on how to be a fulfilled individual so that you can serve society but more importantly, serve God.
So, as individuals, if you really want to have a healthy relationship, work for abundance within yourself so that you have much to give to your relationship and partner.
When two people enter a relationship with the intention to give love, support, comfort, guidance and time to each other, it’s easy.
Relationships should be easy work.
Hard work is what you have to do for yourself as a person.
That’s the ‘trick’ for long-term relationships that flies under the radar of most advice online.
I want you to do an assessment of yourself every couple of months to determine whether you are in a state of service or in a deficit.
Depending on what you find, alter your routine or life to fix that deficit.
I was able to figure this out by completing an activity that I learned from Dr. John Bergman. He advises people to make a list of 100 things to do, be or become. This list will be exhausting to compile but if you do it, you’ll have a map of how to make your own life incredibly fulfilling and meaningful.
While striking off items on your list, you’ll grow as an individual and you’ll have so much more to give to a relationship in the process of growing.
Okay, now that we have completed the part of this article that focuses on each individual, let’s move on to advice that is useful to couples as a team.
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11 Effective Tips On How To Build A Healthy Relationship
1. Never stop dating and courting each other
Like a beautiful garden, a relationship must be nurtured with regular watering and sunshine.
The food for relationships is often the very same content or behavior that created attraction and love during the courtship phase.
Far too often, people enter a state of complacency under the assumption that the relationship itself marks the end of the courtship.
I would argue that it is anything but the end of the courtship.
If anything, that’s when the real phase of courtship begins as the two of you romance each other and work as a unit to inspire romance long after the honeymoon period has passed.
Passionate love must be developed into compassionate love for a relationship to last for a lifetime.
Usually, the courtship inspires a great deal of passion that manifests itself in acts of compassion.
Think about it.
When you fall in love, it’s not necessarily the grandiose acts but the little gesture of compassion and affection.
Feeling cared for, appreciated for who you are, supported for your dreams and aspirations, made to feel special and important, cheered up after hardship and admired.
These are acts of compassion that sometimes manifest themselves in the smallest of ways.
Dating your partner as if you are still getting to know each other is the easiest way to keep the romance alive in a relationship.
Don’t make the usual mistake of falling into a comfort zone.
Prioritize romantic love by scheduling dates, trying new things, being chivalrous or gentle, touching and kissing, using words of validation and admiration, being interested in each other and showing up on your best behavior.
Most importantly, live in the moment.
Don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow.
What matters is how you show up today.
If it were the last day of your relationship, how would you treat your partner and what would you do?
Approach your relationship from that perspective at times and you’ll remain committed to keeping the romance alive.
You need to read this article: How to make a relationship last
2. Create boundaries to protect your relationship
When thinking retrospectively, most of us can pinpoint moments in which we wished to have acted differently or expressed our boundaries more clearly.
You can’t blame yourself for not knowing what you know now.
A lot of times in life, you have to learn valuable lessons by going through failure or hardship.
At least, that has been the case for me.
One of the biggest problems I’ve had in my romantic/love life is a lack of boundaries.
In my mind, I thought that complete freedom was the way to keep someone happy.
Ironically, the cost of that level of freedom would be my own happiness.
As much as love is freeing, it needs a clear destination with guidance along the way.
Your relationship cannot survive or thrive without both of you feeling safe and secure.
People who don’t have boundaries or whose boundaries are disrespectful often feel insecure, unloved and paranoid in their relationships.
Your boundaries will reflect your values in life.
The beautiful thing about values is that they belong to you. They are yours. It doesn’t matter if someone else has different values. That doesn’t nullify your own. And you are justified in applying those values to your life and your relationship in the form of boundaries.
There are activities and people out there who will be dangerous or toxic for a relationship.
Why subject your relationship and yourself to unnecessary risk?
We are so protective of our material possessions and yet we want to be so carefree with people we love who are more valuable than any kind of material possession.
How does that make sense?
At least not to me.
Boundaries may be uncomfortable to express but you have every right to share them with your partner.
Find a way to make things work but be sure to have boundaries in place that protect your relationship and that provide safety and security to you.
An example of this would be the following, “I’m not comfortable with you remaining close with your ex or seeing them on your own.”
This is how I feel and I have every right to express this boundary to my future partner.
3. Express your needs
Earlier, we touched on the importance of giving to your partner and to the relationship. We spoke about how it nurtures the relationship and allows it to grow into something strong, resilient and fulfilling.
But, at the same time, you have to also receive sustenance from your relationship in order to enjoy your relationship.
We all have needs.
In relationships and as individuals.
Look up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for more information on what we need to survive.
Similarly, there are needs that need to be met in your relationship.
To give your partner the best chance of meeting those needs, it’s important for you to express those needs clearly, lovingly and honestly.
This may require you to have some uncomfortable conversations, especially when it comes to intimacy.
But, in doing so, you create a healthy discourse between the two of you that can facilitate a meeting of the minds.
Vocalize your needs and pay attention to your partner’s needs as well.
You both may have different love languages.
If so, it would be wise to discuss what one needs to feel loved and give that to each other, even if it requires you to do some work.
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4. Communicate without distractions
It’s funny how people neglect communication but the instant they’re angered, suddenly, they’re ready to confront someone and express their anger loud and abrasively.
That makes me think that if only these people were willing to communicate their feelings before being angered, they wouldn’t be in half the problems they find themselves in.
Better yet, if they knew how to communicate when angry, they would avoid unnecessary conflict and get a better response from others in most situations.
Good communication seeks to express feelings without necessarily casting blame or shame.
Additionally, in relationships, good communication focuses on serving the relationship and seeking common ground than just being right or wrong.
So, make it a habit to think before you speak but don’t forget to actually speak.
Communication is a two-pronged activity.
As much as vocalizing your feelings, thoughts and needs are important, so is listening.
One of the most commonly cited reasons why women end relationships is because they feel a lack of attention and understanding.
In other words, they don’t feel heard.
I had no idea just how much people feel good and love talking about themselves. Correction, how people love to be heard.
It makes them feel understood, important and appreciated.
You would be wise to take some time to initiate a conversation with your partner about how they feel or what’s going on in their mind and focus on listening.
At the same time, don’t be texting or letting your attention drift off into space. Be present in the moment, make eye contact, contribute to the conversation when you need to and have an interest in learning about your partner.
You’d be amazed at how healing and comforting good communication can be.
5. Create goals for your relationship
Observe a person who lacks goals in life and you will be met with sadness, depression and/or aimlessness.
It shows in their day-to-day life, their mindset, their body and so on and so forth.
There have been periods in my own life when I neglected growth and goals.
During that time, I would find myself grappling with bouts of depression that made me bad company to be around.
You can’t give to a relationship or be of service to others in that state.
And yet, the remedy to a lot of sadness and depression in life comes from being useful and of service to others and yourself.
This is why it’s so important to approach relationships with the same view as you would in your own life as a person.
It needs goals to thrive.
Couples who set goals for their relationship often feel a stronger desire to work together. They develop skills that help them be better partners by pursuing those relationship goals.
Whether it be to travel, to buy a home together, to pay off debt, and so on and so forth.
Having relationship goals will teach you to work as a team.
In a team, you don’t just focus on individual players but the team as a whole.
You carry each other during lows and support each other during highs.
At the beginning of a new season or year, sit down with your partner and set at least 2 to 3 goals as a couple.
Then, make time to work on these goals together.
Experiencing different energy and vibes from each other will create more diversity and variety in your relationship that prevent too much monotony or boredom from setting in.
6. Remain faithful and committed
This world we live in constantly exposes us to temptation at every corner.
People are so accustomed to outside attention on social media that it creates this unhealthy desire for it.
You don’t cultivate a long-lasting healthy relationship without making some sacrifices.
If it’s worth it, you’ll make that sacrifice.
One of those sacrifices is to limit your exposure to outside interference in your relationship.
Why tempt yourself with other people in the first place?
If you know that it’s natural for us to feel some form of attraction to other people even while we are in a committed relationship, why would you create the breeding ground for that attraction to turn into some form of infidelity?
I am now of the opinion that a person is only loyal to a relationship after they have been tested or when they decide to make a sacrifice to remove the possibility of being tested.
In most cases, prevention is better than cure.
People have been known to make foolish and self-sabotaging decisions impulsively and then regret them for the rest of their lives.
Don’t put yourself in that position.
If you’re in a relationship, commit to it. Make the necessary sacrifices as a team and don’t create unnecessary opportunities to be tested.
Once trust is violated, it’s never rebuilt the same and will never reach 100% of what it was.
I could be wrong but this is my opinion and experience.
If it has been broken, recommit to building that trust.
You could possibly rebuild it to even 90% and the new relationship may have a level of growth that makes up for the deficit.
As long as you commit, truly and honestly, you will give this relationship the best possible chance of being healthy and long-lasting.
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7. Don’t invite others into your relationship
Everyone has an opinion of how they think things should be or how things should be done. If you allow just anyone and everyone to be a voice in your relationship, they won’t treat it with the same level of sensitivity and importance as you would.
The two most important opinions in your relationship are your partners and your own voice.
Any other opinion from others should be carefully curated and used as something to reflect on instead of acted on without examination.
At the same time, I understand that we are influenced and affected by the five closest people to us.
If that is the case, be selective about who you surround yourself with and what type of information you allow into your relationship.
Be protective of your relationship and it will last.
8. Avoid social media comparisons
As much as social media has been responsible for bringing people together, it has equally been responsible for tearing people apart.
You have to be fiercely protective of how you spend your time and the kind of things or content you expose yourself to.
Far too many people fall victim to overanalysis due to comparisons online.
“Comparison is the greatest thief of joy.”
A couple who is quite happy with each other can even be thrust into discontentment and dissatisfaction by simply exposing themselves to filtered and unrealistic depictions of romance online.
Don’t compare your relationship with others to the point that it affects your way of thinking.
The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.
It’s fine to draw inspiration from other couples but never to the point of revamping your relationship to be in competition with another couple.
That is a recipe for disaster and heartbreak.
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9. Don’t withdraw from your identity as a person
A common occurrence in a lot of relationships is the identity adoption that takes place with the partner who does not maintain their own likes, hobbies and opinions.
It’s natural to take on some of the tendencies of your partner.
After all, you’re spending a significant amount of time with each other.
But, the core of your identity should remain mostly the same.
Sometimes, this means having different likes. It would be easy to just go along with what your partner likes but that often leads to dissatisfaction.
Your partner was not looking to date a clone.
Even if they may not like what you like, the variety of differing likes makes for new experiences and enjoyable memories.
The last thing you want to hear your partner say is that they miss the person you used to be.
That’s usually a warning sign that things are not going in the right direction.
Maintain your identity.
This may require you to spend some valuable time by yourself to work on the things that mean something to you.
Do not sacrifice all of your individualism for the sake of the relationship. It will backfire and cause bigger issues.
You really don’t have to be so malleable in a relationship.
It’s okay to compromise and it’s encouraged. But, you can have a difference in opinion about things and enjoy stuff that isn’t up your partner’s alley.
Don’t abandon those things.
They remind you of who you are and most of the time, your partner fell in love with that person, not a generic copy of themselves.
You need to read this article: How to love yourself in a relationship
10. Don’t let misunderstandings fester
It can be tempting to let small things lay dormant but these little issues tend to pile up and result in catastrophic issues down the road.
I’ve seen couples break up over silly misunderstandings that were not dealt with early on.
Resentment, doubt, insecurity and disconnection grow with time, especially when left unaddressed.
One of the best ways to process issues and the feelings associated with them is to have your thoughts and feelings acknowledged.
Don’t rug sweep or you’ll trip over the mess that builds up and severely injure the relationship and yourself.
Dealing with small issues may seem mundane and annoying but they are instrumental in maintaining a healthy relationship.
11. Don’t cling to upsetting issues
This is going to conflict with the above advice but they actually complement each other in a paradoxical manner.
While it’s a good idea to deal with small issues quickly and effectively, it’s a good idea to avoid clinging to misunderstandings and fights.
Couples who try and deconstruct every single remark made during a fight prolong toxic feelings.
A sincere apology with an amendment in behavior is enough.
Clinging to every feeling and remark will only create more tension, especially when you both haven’t had enough time to move on from the fight.
A friend of mine related an issue he had with his ex-partner.
After fights, she would want to unpack everything that was said to make sure it was all worked out and squashed.
Instead of resolving things, it would trigger another fight and argument because she didn’t allow for enough time to pass before revisiting previous conversations.
If you fixate on explaining and unpacking every remark made in an argument or fight, you’ll create countless opportunities to clash with each other.
That was what occurred each and every time she would insist on unpacking everything after the fight.
It would get so frustrating that he would feel forced to temporarily turn off his phone or even block her in some instances because she would not stop rehashing the same fight or issue over and over again for days.
Common ground was rarely felt and they kept creating new issues of conflict from one argument or misunderstanding.
Once things are worked out, move on from it.
Don’t linger on it unless you have some serious concerns or reservations.
I commend you for making an effort to learn as much as you can about building a healthy relationship but at the end of the day, experience is one of the best teachers.
A lot of what I’ve shared with you above is wisdom that I have learned from my own life that has been echoed by couples and fellow relationship experts across the globe.
Find what’s missing in your approach and optimize it.
Making changes to your relationship may be uncomfortable at first but after some time, it can become a rewarding change in your life.
Work with your partner and you’ll be surprised at the kind of relationship you can have in your life.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed this article on how to have a healthy relationship that lasts a lifetime. If you would like my help personally, check out my Services Page for more information on email coaching/consults. I’ve helped many couples save their relationship and fall back in love. I’d love to help you, so, get in contact with me.