Everyone wants a happy and successful marriage, but how easy is it to achieve? Statistics show that almost 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. This staggering statistic illustrates that the art of finding and maintaining healthy relationships might be an elusive commodity.
Many of us are unsure how to create a healthy relationship, but there are some surefire ways to create a disaster in any relationship. Here’s a top 10 list of “commandments” that will secure unhappiness:
- Thou shall make me happy.
- Thou shall not have any interests other than me.
- Thou shall know what I want and what I feel without me having to say anything.
- Thou shall return each one of my sacrifices with an equal or greater sacrifice.
- Thou shall shield me from anxiety, worry, hurt or any pain.
- Thou shall give me my sense of self-worth and esteem.
- Thou shall be grateful for everything I do.
- Thou shall not be critical of me, show anger toward me or otherwise disapprove of anything I do.
- Thou shall be so caring and loving that I need never take risks or be vulnerable in any way.
- Thou shall love me with thy whole heart, thy whole soul and thy whole mind, even if I do not love myself.
A healthy relationship encourages active and continued communication. Too often couples are great communicators in the early portion of their relationship, but soon the communication between the couple drifts away. As time passes, so does LIFESTYLEthe strength of the relationship, because the active communication process was the bond that held the power in the relationship. Without strengthening and continuing a strong communication system, the relationship will slowly disintegrate and end in unhappiness and divorce.
Wondering if your relationship falls into the “healthy” category? Here are seven “golden rules” of a healthy relationship:
- Encourages individuality and separation. Create a relationship without fear of abandonment and that fosters individuality. Healthy relationships have elements of separateness and individuality—each partner knows where he or she starts and the other partner begins. Healthy partners realize they are free to disagree, have different opinions and create a relationship which is free from smothering, invasive behaviors, controlling and power struggles.
- Invites growth. A healthy relationship is one in which partners encourage friendships, personal growth and individuality. It is a relationship that discourages stagnation and encourages personal change and empowerment.
- Nurtures open and honest communication. Couples that endure the test of time have mastered the art of communication, which creates a relationship that is resilient and lasting.
- Encourages the expression of feelings. In a healthy relationship each partner feels safe to share his or her thoughts, insights and feelings when expressed in an appropriate manner. It is a relationship in which each partner feels heard and trusted.
- Builds self-esteem. A relationship of this caliber encourages partners to feel good about themselves through encouragement, self-evaluation and nurturing.
- Commitment to resolution. A healthy relationship is built on resolution. Perhaps the old adage of “never go to bed before a conflict is resolved” makes the most sense even in today’s world. Resilient couples learn to create compromises and find solutions to disagreements and conflicts.
- Encourages trust and respect. These attributes are the pillars of resilient and enduring relationships. Respect and trust are the cornerstones of a relationship filled with love and passion.
Healthy relationships are ones in which two wholes come together to create a union, not one in which two halves come together to become a whole. Making someone else responsible for your happiness puts you on the quick road to a destructive relationship. Too often people forget that they are the masters of their own journey. It is important to remember that you must learn to love yourself before you can love someone else. Anytime you are not connected with yourself, or find yourself “lost” in a relationship, you can be assured of unhappiness! TPW
Dr. Miller is the founder and director of Peoria’s Joy Miller & Associates. She is an internationally-known licensed psychotherapist, professional trainer and author. She has been professionally involved in the mental health field for 25 years and is a part-time instructor at Bradley University. For more information on mental health visit www.joymillerblog.blogspot.com.