10 Traits of Healthy Couples
By: Almie Rose |
Do you consider yourself to be a part of a “healthy couple”? If not, would you like to be? Hey, as fun as dysfunction can be (don’t forget, there is a “fun” in dysfunction), it’s also important to have stability, and part of having stability is being in a healthy relationship, and thus, being part of a healthy couple. It sounds easy, and it can be, but it can also be hard.
Here are 10 traits of healthy couples, to help you out. How close are you?
1. An appreciation for feminism. Seriously, according to Women’s Health, having a partner who labels himself as a feminist is a huge asset.They quote Laurie Rudman, who has studied the subject and has a Ph.D., saying, “A male feminist partner may increase a woman’s ability to realize her own goals and career ambitions … And male feminists are probably not threatened by their partner’s strivings.” And that’s a good thing indeed. When your dude is on your side, you’re bound to accomplish more than if he weren’t. Sounds simple, right? So why are so many men afraid to be labeled as feminists? It’s beyond me. Guys, embrace it!
2. Fighting fair. It isn’t that healthy couples don’t fight; rather, it’s that they fight fair. Think of fighting as a “tool to understanding” (MindBodyGreen). What does that mean? That, “in a healthy relationship, a fight means there is real effort on both sides to see the other person’s point of view, understand each other’s feelings, and work toward an equitable resolution. In an unhealthy relationship, a fight is a power play and an opportunity for payback.” So when you fight, you don’t want to tear each other down. You want to build up your mutual understanding of each other and of what’s really going on, to get to the root of the fight. And don’t worry if it seems like you fight a lot; according to Dr. Phil, “Fighting is a part of any relationship. You are not ever going to merge or share your life with someone and not have conflict. There is plenty of adjustment.” It’s totally normal, and as long as you fight fair, it’s totally okay.
3. Not drinking excessively. Well this one is a bummer, but Women’s Health reports that “controlling the boozing” could really help your relationship, saying, “research suggests that young adults who drink heavily (meaning four or more drinks on one occasion for women; five or more for guys) are less likely to wed in the first place and may be at greater risk for early separation if they do.” Why is that? Because you’re not thinking clearly and using your best judgement. Makes sense but is still kind of a downer. But that doesn’t mean you have to shut down the drinking entirely, because one trait of healthy couples is…
4. …having fun. A Berkley study reports that, “couples who play together stay together.” And this means branching out your fun activities — try something new! Why? Because, “Novel and arousing activities make you feel happier in general, and that happiness is likely to extend to your relationship as well.” And when both of you are trying something new, that effect is doubled. Simply put, it’s fun to have fun. (Duh, right?) So make a pact to try new fun things and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll have a good time, even if you’re bad at what you’re trying, because you’re trying it together.
5. Showing appreciation for the other person. Do you totally dig your partner and the things that they do for you? Let them know! Sounds totally simple, right? But sometimes when we’re having a crazy-busy day, it can be really easy to forget to give your partner that well-deserved thumbs up. Don’t let that happen. Here’s an example from Cosmopolitan: “Tell him what a great job he did planning your latest date so he doesn’t feel taken for granted. Chances are it will inspire him to give you the same well-deserved pats on the back.” Take a moment out of your day today to let your partner know how much you really appreciate them — and cite specific examples.
6. Compromise. Any relationship of any kind has a give-and-take element. Sometimes, you have to do something you don’t really want to do, but do anyway, because it makes your partner happy. Indlulgd reports this as one of the healthiest things that a couple can do, and it can be a really simple compromise, like watching your partner’s favorite TV show even though you’re not psyched about it. Having trouble compromising? Redbook has some ideas. One of them may be to adjust your expectations. Janet Hibbs, Ph.D., author of Try to See It My Way, says, “Keep in mind that you may not see eye-to-eye on what you consider fair, so be open to compromise.” It’s important to be open. And don’t be afraid to tell your partner exactly what it is you need, either — in a gentle, loving way. Once you’ve both expressed your needs, you can come closer to a compromise. Just remember to be an adult and not throw a tantrum, and you’ll be fine.
7. A happy sex life. Yup, you guess it — healthy couples have healthy sex lives. But don’t fret if you and your partner are at a place where sex isn’t as frequent as it used to be — as long as you’re both okay with it. “Happily, less sex does not automatically equate to less love, happiness and fulfillment,” says Robert Weiss, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development, Elements Behavioral Health, for the Huffington Post. “For most couples, especially those who’ve been together for a number of years, companionship, reliability and a sense of mutual trust are far more meaningful than a lot of hot, sweaty sex.” But what if you’re looking for more sex? First of all, don’t feel embarrassed or shy about it. You need to be frank, open, and honest about your sex life if you’re going to change it. As to how to change it? Weiss has some ideas. He recommends you schedule sex, as “horribly unromantic” as it may be. But just because you’re planning it, doesn’t mean your plans can’t be sexy and romantic, so focus on that part. Also, you may want to “mix it up” in your love life, by trying something new (there’s that adventurous spirit again!) or taking a little vacation. Just don’t put yourselves down. A dissatisfying sex life is something you can easily change, as long as you both — and here’s that magic word again — compromise!
8. Communication. Another duh, right? But good communication is a key trait of happy and healthy couples. The American Psychological Association reports on the benefits of “talking openly”, stating, “Healthy couples make time to check in with one another on a regular basis. It’s important to talk about more than just parenting and maintaining the household, however. Try to spend a few minutes each day discussing deeper or more personal subjects to stay connected to your partner over the long term.” They do note though, that this doesn’t mean more unpleasant subjects are forever off-limits: “Keeping concerns or problems to yourself can breed resentment. When discussing tough topics, though, it pays to be kind.” This means, of course, fighting fair. See? It’s the circle of life!
9. Common interests. Common interests don’t just mean a healthy couple, but a happy one. It’s okay if you don’t have a huge laundry list of things in common — it’s not a contest — but as long as you have of the few, important ones, that’s a good thing. Woman’s Day reports, “After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy.” So find something that you can both enjoying doing, and stick to it. Even if it’s just binge-watching a shared favorite TV show. As long as it’s a common interest you’re participating in together, it counts!
10. Giving each other space. Just because you’re a happy couple doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip. Doctor of Psychiatry Kristin Davin points out it’s the contrary. “[Healthy couples] create time together and time apart. Both are vital. And necessary. Too much time together can make a person feel that they are losing their identity, their individuality. Continue to be the person your partner or spouse fell in love with. They recognize their differences and embrace their similarities, not perfectly by they do.” So really, you need to make sure you don’t lose your own sense of self in this relationship, or it’s bad news for the both of you. Also, Davin points out that all that space could invoke a, ““missing you” feeling that enhances intimacy” when you are back together. And that’s good news!
These are just some of the traits of happy couples. What can you think of? Do share!
Image via WeHeartIt.