5 Things Done Differently in Healthy Relationships. ~ Laura Brown

Via Laura Brownon Aug 20, 2014

Source: http://wolfeyebrows.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/vintage-couples/

One of the things I am quite frank about is the fact that I have had my share of screw ups in the romantic department.

If there was a mistake to make, I made it. If there was something I was told I shouldn’t/couldn’t do, I did it. And I suffered a great many heartaches because of it.

I began to correlate drama and dysfunction with love and romance and nothing could be further from the truth.

Part of why I consider being a relationship specialist my calling and why I am so dang good at it is because I have been there, done that and burned the t-shirt. This includes the hard work on my relationship with love to get to where I am today.

Where am I today? Married to the man of my dreams after a long road of off and on, long distance dating with two kids and another currently taking residence (and causing me to waddle rather ungracefully around the house) in my womb.

Here is what I have discovered those in healthy relationships do differently:

1. The past cannot be erased.

Many people will tell us that we must release the past or leave the past behind us. While that is a novel idea, it’s complete and utter B.S. We will never forget or release the past, and why should we? It brought us here.

Everything we have encountered, whether good or bad, was a learning experience designed to aid our evolution. People in healthy relationships haven’t suddenly forgotten or “released” their wounds, they have transformed them. They have learned to honor their past and all it entailed as necessary steps to take in the ladder to their personal evolution.

They bring with them the appreciation for each moment and respect for where they have come from and what they have gone through into their current relationship. It adds a richness and depth that would otherwise be lacking if we truly had an ability to push a button and drop our pasts down the chute.

2. It’s not always 50/50.

Sometimes it’s 80/20 and that is okay. What is not okay is if it stays in this place of imbalance. We all go through things that leave us gutted or otherwise unable to be fully present in a relationship.

Instead of complaining and throwing a tantrum, those in a healthy relationship understand that sometimes we need to give a bit more while our partner puts focus on other things. It could be a job or personal issues that requires their attention. If talked about openly and honestly, then it’s okay to give a bit more while our partner’s attention is diverted elsewhere.

What is not okay is if this imbalance becomes a part of our everyday existence. One person cannot be the backbone to the entire relationship; the very definition of partnership implies the participation of another for a common goal.

3. Honesty Counts.

And, honestly, this has been the hardest part for me. As a rather independent woman who made her own money and did her own thing for so many years, it became difficult to imagine that suddenly I was supposed to share where every penny went or had to tell my partner where I was going.

My rebellious nature would kick in and “it’s none of your damn business where I’m going” flew from my mouth more than a few times. This, however, does not a healthy relationship make.

While I was playing secret squirrel, my husband was telling me about where the money he made went, into what savings, toward what household project. If he was leaving he would say where he was headed and approximately what time he would be home. It wasn’t done with the feeling that he needed to, but the feeling that it was the respectful thing to do. I took note.

When we are in a healthy partnership, it’s time to open up about these things. Whether it’s where we are headed on a Saturday afternoon or just how many new pairs of shoes we bought as we try to stuff the evidence in the closet.

It took me a long time to realize that I needn’t view it from an adolescent-like perspective and fear that someone was encroaching on my space. We can still be independent and open—those in healthy relationships get that.

4. Silence is deadly.

Still ignoring your partner when you are upset with them? Don’t! Please for the love of all that is holy do not keep up with this dangerous trend; it destroys more relationships than I can even number!

Those who are in healthy, long-term relationships understand that the key to anything ultimately boils down to communication.

Unless you are Paris Hilton, my guess is that nothing at all in life is going to get solved by pouting in the corner with your arms folded around your chest. There will be times when we are upset with our partner. We will argue and disagree and sometimes we may even say hurtful crap to one another.

That’s the nature of the beast. It’s how we handle those tension filled moments that determines whether we continue on the road of a happy and healthy relationship or take a detour down break up avenue.

We have to be willing to talk about what is bothering us. Is it good to sometimes wait until we have cooled our jets? Sure, no one wants to have a finger in their face and most will check out if our voice is raised.

Talking calmly, however, about what is bothering us is essential for working through issues. Our partner cannot possibly know how we feel and what to do about it unless we create a space where we each can safely share our feelings.

So stop the silent sulking and talk!

5. Separate but together.

People who enjoy reasonable health and sanity in their relationships get that a relationship cannot be that which makes their lives full but rather an addition to their already full life. So many, and yes I am looking at my ladies here, find someone they are interested in and suddenly drop their friends like hotcakes and start to devote their every waking moment to their new paramour. Then when the relationship starts to die a slow death due to a lack of space, their entire world falls apart.

When we are in a functional and healthy relationship, there is an understanding that we each must have our own goals and passions. We should have time away for ourselves to explore our own interests. Nothing is sexier than a man or woman who is passionate and capable of holding their own.

Conversely, there is no greater turn off than the stench of clingy desperation. Make your life full and explore what you love—your relationship will be all the more rich for it.

Most importantly, those who are in healthy relationships understand that it all boils down to respect and love. Respect and love for the self, for their partner and for the relationship.

There is a desire to love their partner to such a degree that they feel the ultimate freedom that comes from security.

Healthy doesn’t mean problem-free by any stretch of the imagination; my husband and I clear the emotional pipes from time to time with a good ol’ spat. But, thankfully, we have learned a few healthy habits that allows us to do so in a fashion that doesn’t undermine the integrity of the relationship.

 

Relephant:

5 Hallmarks of a Healthy Relationship.

All Healthy Relationships Have Hiccups.

 

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Apprentice Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Wolf Eyebrows at WordPress.com

About Laura Brown

A wearer of phenomenal shoes, drinker of fabulous wine and diviner of cards, Laura Brown’s mission is to guide and empower women on matters related to love and romance. With a decidedly blunt but down-to-Earth approach Laura hones in on the subtleties and helps women to understand the bigger picture within their love lives. Learn more about Laura through her site, Modern Sibyl, and stay up to date over at her Facebook page.

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19 Responses to “5 Things Done Differently in Healthy Relationships. ~ Laura Brown”

  1. tmellon02 says:

    #3 and #5. And don't forget. LOTS of Sex. Also, no matter how frustrated you get, speak to your partner as though they are someone you don't want to hurt. Consciously.

    • Laura B says:

      OH I agree so much with the need for sex, lol. As much as people gloss over it at times I feel its a crucial aspect to the intimacy and bond created and shared between two people. It takes a great deal of work but you are right that its important to be very aware and think what is about to be said so that we avoid hurting those we love. Though, I must admit that no one is capable of hurting us more than those we love because of the value we place in their thoughts, opinions and actions. Its a two way street of conscious language and an ability to forgive. Thanks for commenting!

  2. englishthistle says:

    Almost every relationship I've had has felt like a competition. Who was more interesting, more fun, had more friends, etc, etc. Trying to best each other doesn't make for an equal and honest situation. Definitely time for a change!

  3. Laura B says:

    Absolutely @englishthistle! A relationship should be mutually supportive and not a constant struggle to one up one another. Don't get me wrong, healthy competition is ok; it sometimes is just what we need to get our asses in gear! BUT it should not be a constant nor should you feel that you are each struggling to out do one another. That's exhausting and hardly supportive!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!! <3

  4. EA says:

    wow this is a very timely meditation. my partner of 2 years and I are in the midst of a cross country move; prior to this time I had held down the finances in our relationship. Now I’m beginning graduate school and he’s had a difficult time stepping up into a position of equality. How can I support him emotionally during this time while reestablishing my independence? We both realize the stress of moving yet we both acknowledge an balance in our partnership that if left unresolved could deteriorate our hard won commitment.

    • Laura B says:

      This is a very common theme, EA, and I totally see and hear you. I went through this as well when I got pregnant with my third child (due in October). I had expected my husband to step up and become more aggressive in his career so that I could relax in mine. When he did not do that I felt a great deal of resentment that he was not embodying the role that "I" had expected of him.
      The truth of the matter is that financial inequality is often times a HUGE issue for couples and becomes even more of one when each person does not clearly define what they expect and need of the other. You two might want to spend some time clearly defining expectations and asking, honestly, whether or not the other can fill that role.
      In my situation I had to compromise and work with him to understand that while my job allows for me to grow based on how much I put in it (self employed life coach and intuitive reader) his job (corporate 9-5'er) is not as giving in that department. We had to each clearly define what we expected and also what we felt capable of doing. We have found a middle ground and you may find that you two will have to work out a similar common ground between you two! If you need further help please feel free to get in touch!
      Bliss~
      L

  5. handyman says:

    Acceptance of each other helps a lot. Embracing the differences

  6. "the ultimate freedom that comes from security" … very well-put!!
    I find #5 especially relevant for me right now. Another way to put it might be, "don't expect your partner to meet all your needs." But I like the way you put it too.

    • Laura B says:

      Right Andrea! You are damn right that your partner will never fulfill all of your needs-ultimately the more we fill them the more what they do is a compliment to a light that is already shining bright!
      xo
      L

  7. Guest says:

    Great article Laura!

  8. Veri S. says:

    Agree with most of the article (and the aforementioned need for plentiful soulful sex) but disagree that 'arguments' (fights?) are inevitable. I am in my healthiest relationship ever and we have never had a fight/argument. We don't raise voices, call names or innuendo. It has provided a much safer environment for us both to open up to each other more than we thought possible in previous marriages (one each). There are ground rules and you don't even come close to the edges of them if you want to sustain a healthy, private space into which your relationship can grow. Intimacy is the key and when you feel free to unleash anger on your partner simply because they are near, it's the most destructive thing I've ever witnessed. Apologies may be forthcoming, but damage is cumulative, even when easily forgiven (as that often leads to increased intensity/frequency as the permissive environment allows). Best to treat your partner with the same courtesy, respect, forebearance and forgiveness that you did on that first day you spent together in each other's arms, wondering how you ever lived your life without that one. Negativity, cynicism and blame are pure poison, even when sugar-coated.

  9. Ironfeep says:

    These are all fantastic! Thank you. I especially love how you directly related “honesty” to simple acts of transparency and openness. It took a lot for me to learn that being honest wasn’t just a matter of answering questions truthfully, but initiating openness and being forthcoming about what is going on internally and externally throughout the day. It helps keep your partner on the same page and that’s important.

  10. angel says:

    Good read!!

  11. wolfhalton says:

    My wife and I are relationship coaches. For a sports analogy: A relationship is like a sports team. Each player has specific skills and talents that overlap. It would be crazy for teammates to fight each other over the ball, or over anything else. Most sports teams have a coach to help the players get better at the game. Most people in relationships do not have coaches and this is why it is basically a random chance that the relationship succeeds. It is not your fault that you are always finding yourself in bad relationships. You are not trained for it, and there are probably very few that you know whose relationships you want to model. My suggestion: find a relationship coach – if not me, then somebody. There are simple strategies that bring out the best in your significant other, just like there are specific strategies that have been getting you the results you are getting.

    • Laura B says:

      I think people are fully capable of having a healthy relationship through their own self inquiry and evolution without the assistance of a relationship coach (which I am as well so I say this in the air of absolute transparency). There are those who need greater assistance or more structured understanding and guidance and in such cases relationship coaching is such a powerful force-however, it would quite untrue and obtuse, in my opinion to suggest that 1) without our coaching people will only repeat the same mistakes as I find that it is a truly individual decision not a blanketed truth and 2) that everyone lacks healthy relationships from which to model. Though I am a relationship coach and reader who has made a plethora of mistakes in my own right it was through my own work, not with a coach that I reversed trends and I had many relationships to model that were prime examples of what people SHOULD do.
      I made the decision to begin to try things differently and because of this it allowed me to make healthy changes. For those who lack certain skills and/or motivation to do this on their own a relationship with a well qualified coach and reader is quite beneficial. It is not, however, the only option and I find it quite dangerous to suggest otherwise.

  12. megimp says:

    I believe this advice when I feel heathy but right now I feel needy even with all the years of therapy I ve had

    • Laura B says:

      I think its about understanding the power YOU have over the feelings you feel swell inside. If you are feeling needy than ask yourself how you can support/love/nurture yourself more. Often times when we feel rejected, alone, needy etc. its not on account of what we lack externally but rather what we are not giving OURSELVES internally.

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