The 3 keys to a healthy relationship, be it platonic, romantic or familial.
It took me a long time and a lot of open communication to establish a healthy relationship with my parents and friends. I, now, live my life with a great deal of confidence, secure in the knowledge that I will never succumb to depression again. This certainty has its base in the love and trust I share with my parents.
Next time, I feel pain of any kind overwhelming my equilibrium, my relationships and all the love in my life will allow me to get the help and support I need.
This is why healthy relationships are so essential to our existence. The laughter, camaraderie, love, and trust shared in the bounds of a relationship keep the demons of insecurity and loneliness at bay.
So, what do you think would happen if this support system either falls apart or turns toxic?
In view of that, I would like to share with you the 3 elements that are integral to the happy continuance of any relationship. These three elements give us a healthy relationship capable of surviving the test of time –
1. Healthy Boundaries
Reading your kid’s journal
Scrolling through your spouse’s phone
Going through your bestie’s bag in her absence
Does that sound like okay behaviour to you? If it does, you may have boundary issues in your relationships. Establishing boundaries in a relationship is critical to the health of any and every relationship.
A lot of people conceive boundaries to be not just unnecessary but also hinting at there being a distance in a relationship. I would like to put this misconception to rest.
Spelling out clear boundaries doesn’t indicate a lack of love. In fact, it means that along with love, you also share a healthy amount of respect. Every single individual with a mind of his/her own has certain non-negotiable limitations in their life. There is always something or the other we all refuse to allow.
I am uncomfortable with people touching my food or using my clothes, sheets, towel, and pillow. It doesn’t make me angry but it does make me uncomfortable. Most of the people in my life are aware of this, and so when someone refuses to respect my boundaries, I feel like they don’t really care for my emotional welfare. (I suffer from compulsive anxiety and sharing personal belongings disturbs me a great deal). Either that or they lack respect for my feelings.
Do you think a relationship can survive if one party is constantly questioning the amount of respect afforded to his/her feelings?
This is especially critical for people sharing a sexual relationship. What do you think will happen if the two people don’t spell out what they are and aren’t comfortable with? A clear enunciation of the boundaries also takes the guesswork out of a relationship.
This allows you to avoid a lot of misunderstanding and rules out the need for mental Jenga- a common problem in relationships where one person expects the other to just ‘know’ their feelings.
People often think it is a testament to their shared love if their feelings are understood without having been spelt out in the first place. Unless you are living inside a movie, that’s not gonna happen. It doesn’t mean you’re not loved. It just means that you’re in relationships with a human being without psychic abilities.
To establish the clear boundaries necessary for a healthy relationship –
- Initiate the conversation
- Keep an open mind
- Practice patience if the conversation becomes difficult
- Don’t assume or presume
- Accept your share of responsibility
- Once the boundaries have been established, never question the other person’s need for it.
- Don’t assume to have all your needs catered to without you doing your part.
- Most importantly, please don’t judge.
Our feelings and needs are heavily influenced by the experiences of our past. There is also our subconscious at play so, never presume to know whether a person’s needs are valid or not.
2. Open Communication
Establishing boundaries is one way of initiating open communication, but there is more to it than just settling limitations. Open communication means that in the event of a discord, issues are discussed calmly and maturely. Accusations are not flung and blame is not assigned. A healthy discussion ensues with the aim of finding a resolution that’s acceptable to both parties.
If there are massive no-go areas in a relationship, it may lead to distrust. A lack of trust exposes a relationship to a multitude of problems. An external party or an unfavourable event could attack your relationship and rip it asunder with very little effort. Think of every movie you’ve ever seen! They’ve all taught us that trust is the single most important factor in a healthy relationship!
My relationship with my parents was twisted up in my head. I didn’t really believe that I was necessary to their happiness. It took A LOT of time to fix that and it all started with communication. I had to let my mother know that despite appearances, I didn’t feel needed or loved. We discussed and resolved so many issues. Honestly, it was those long conversations that gave me a reason to rally all my strength and reach a place of emotional and mental strength.
Effective communication can save you from a lot of needless arguments. It can be hard to communicate feelings (especially, negative ones), but it is necessary.
3. Grow together, not apart
We outgrow those who don’t grow with us – another harsh truth! Think about this –
As you go into a relationship, you and your partner share common interests, a similar background, and the same outlook on life. Now, one of you is more open to change than the other, and starts exploring other areas of interests. Suddenly, this person is changing in a way that’s creating friction in the relationship.
For instance, if one person wishes to grow, adopt new hobbies and an improved, abundant mindset, suddenly your values won’t be in sync anymore. The chances of a relationship surviving under pressure of that kind are very low. That pesky little generation gap we keep referring to every time there is an issue between children and their parents – that also has its roots in one generation growing with time, and the other choosing to stick with the old patterns.
In India, arranged marriage was once the norm. Today, try telling an educated adult that they’re expected to marry someone picked out for them by their parents and they’ll simply walk out of the house or there will be a lot of unpleasant yelling. Indian parents had to change and progress with the changing time. They’ve become more open to their children dating and eventually, marrying someone of their own choice.
The only way to avoid a relationship breaking under pressure of this kind is for the two people to grow together. Again, open communication plays a very vital role here. Keep an open mind and explore new interests together. Try to respect each other’s wishes and don’t try to always get your own way.
Maintaining a healthy relationship that has its root in mutual respect and love isn’t hard, but one must always remember that love has to be nurtured like everything else in the world. As soon as you notice the first crack in your relationship, act on a plan to fix it.
The three elements that will save your relationship from falling apart under pressure –
Don’t ever let ego get in the way, and always, always be respectful of the other person’s needs.
No relationship can be nurtured in an environment fraught with hostility, judgement, and a stubborn wish to get one’s own way. Also, remember that counselling is always an option. Don’t ever consider it to be a judgement on you as an individual. There is no shame in asking for help with your relationships.
Sometimes, issues buried in our subconscious cause a lot of problems – the kind that only a professional can help you resolve. Love conquers all – it isn’t just a fancy little line. I truly believe in the power of love and its ability to save us from the worst of our vices and the most violent of our pain. No matter how bad things get, don’t ever lose hope.