What’s your idea of a healthy relationship?
Last week I stumbled across research that showed in over 400 separate studies, the number one contributor to success is … you guessed it, a strong relationship!
Being my 13th wedding anniversary, this made me reflect on how my partnership has helped me thrive.
No, I didn’t have perfect role models but throughout my life, I have unashamedly gleaned from other people. In fact, I have a radar for thriving couples and I study them (creepy no?!) and their choices and I often debrief with my own coach so I can keep growing.
Here are my 5 non-negotiables for healthy relationships:
- Space to be your own person;
- Radical honesty;
- Less control, more trust;
- Realistic expectations; &
- Empathy & space holding.
Be warned: These aren’t typical #couplegoals and they won’t necessarily result in less conflict, but beyond the initial discomfort, I can attest that they produce more intimacy and growth, which is what success and satisfaction are all about right?
- Space to be your own person
How many times do we hear people referring to their partner as their “other half”? It’s a sweet sentiment and all, but it’s SO unhealthy and we need to stop it. We are not meant to lose our individual identity just because we are in a relationship. There is a therapeutic term for this dysfunction: “Enmeshment,” where a couple lose all boundaries with one another and essentially become codependent. Contrary to what you may think, this does not result in relational unity, instead is creates homogeny (Iccccckkkkk).
- Radical honesty
So many romcoms & love songs joke about the lies we tell our partners in order to avoid conflict. “Everything’s fine” “No, this outfit isn’t new” “No you’re not gaining weight honey” “I don’t even notice other people, you’re all I see.” This kind of placating does not lead to deepening intimacy, vulnerability or curiosity about one another. The fact is, if you want to grow closer to your partner, it requires you managing your own triggers so that the other person has room and safety to share their truth. You might not like what you hear, but if you can get over that, you will like the resulting closeness.
- Less control, more trust
Oh my Lord, there are so many ways I used to try and control my husband to manage my own fears and insecurities! As though, controlling our external environment and the people in it could ever create bodily safety for ourselves! The more I dealt with my own fears, the more I could let go of my need to control and that resulted in more freedom for both of us, which ironically, we ended up using to love on each other! When you take responsibility for your own wellbeing, you become trustworthy and safe to be around.
- Realistic expectations
Healthy relationships are built on the understanding that no single person can meet all of our emotional, physical & spiritual needs. So many people use manipulation or harbour resentment in an attempt to get their needs met and the game changing truth for me was discovering that we need many many relationships outside of our relationship to thrive. Start growing a beautiful network of people to support your life and take part in the beautiful dance of giving and receiving.
- Empathy & space holding
Many of us would like to think we are empathetic, but because we are uncomfortable with pain, we we miss the mark. We respond by either trying to fix the problem or minimise it, never allowing them the opportunity to lighten their emotional load. Holding space requires us to be fully present for our partner, to both hear and validate what they are experiencing without judgment or centring ourselves.
Where to start?
If the list above feels overwhelming and your current reality is nowhere near this, fear not! The best place to start is with the relationship you have with yourself. 2 steps you can take are:
- Ask yourself “What do I need right now and how can I get that need met in a healthy way?”
- Trace your core beliefs around relationship back to their origin. Ask yourself “Who taught me this?” You do not have to stay chained to ideas that don’t serve you, especially when you realise the people who taught those ideas to you weren’t necessarily happy or relationally healthy themselves.
Is your pasta overflowing?
One of the things unique to women, is that just like a bowl of spaghetti, everything effects everything else in our life. We don’t keep our lives compartmentalised in neat little boxes, nor would we want to! When our relationships are tired or testing, it ends up impacting our capacity at work. There is only so long we can juggle everything before we inevitably burn out.
If you are purpose driven and want to free up more capacity by boosting your relationships, reach out and find out how 1:1 coaching can help.
Book a free strategy call here and from here we will go through a needs audit and together we can decide if a 3 month coaching arrangement is the right step for you.
If you are a DIY girl, you may also want to check out the book People Skills by Robert Bolton.
Click here to find out more about 1:1 coaching.