By Dr. April Brown, LMHC, NCC, Ed.D.
In 2016, as always, we are balancing family, school and work. We want to do our best to ensure that our personal environment provides us with positive support. It is difficult to do sometimes because we interact with a variety of people in various settings. However, the condition of our relationships does not only affect our mood, but our health, work, school performance, mind, attitude and other relationships. It is imperative to understand and recognize what a healthy relationship is so that we can strive to cultivate healthy relationships in our lives.
Here are five ways to create a healthy relationship:
- Be authentic. Appreciate and honor yourself. Do not put yourself down. When you do, it opens up the door for others to mistreat you. This is why it is important for you to love yourself and to know and be open about your likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. If you try to be someone else, or if you let another person define you, you will end up with a relationship that does not meet your needs and desires.
- Value the other person. No one is perfect, including yourself, and perfection should not be expected. Realize that everyone makes mistakes in a relationship. When a mistake is made, it is imperative to take ownership of the mistake and work with the other person to resolve the issue.
- Resolve problems together. Since things change all the time, problems are unavoidable parts of life. When a problem arises in a relationship, it is best to resolve it together so that each person’s input is considered. Remember, it is okay to agree to disagree.
- Maintain good communication and respect boundaries. In communicating with the other person, it is imperative that you be direct and clear about your intentions, needs, feelings and desires. Also, take into consideration the other person’s feelings. Understand and respect that each person is different, and he or she may have another perspective of the situation. It is best to avoid using always, never or any “absolute” language. Try to use “I” statements when you are expressing your feelings. This will help you always provide support to one another.
- Spend quality time together. Quality time creates strong bonds. Strong bonds provide the trust and support that is needed to sustain relationships during difficult times. The American Psychological Association states, “To keep things interesting, some couples plan regular date nights. Even dates can get old, though, if you are always renting a movie or going to the same restaurant. Experts recommend breaking out of the routine and trying new things — whether that is going dancing, taking a class together or packing an afternoon picnic.”
In an effort to inspire, here are some healthy relationship quotes:
- “Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that many people enter into a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” Anthony Robbins
- “The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.” Alexandra Penney
- “A healthy relationship does not drag you down; it inspires you to be better.” Mandy Hale
 American Psychological Association. “Happy couples: How to keep your relationship health.” http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/healthy-relationships.aspx