Most of the world has been in lockdown for the past couple of months, but through all the craziness one thing endures – love. I think in the near future there will be books and movies set in the pandemic, something called ‘Love in the time of COVID-19’. In all seriousness, it’s quite scary to hear how many people have come out of lockdown or quarantine and split up.
I’d like to think that I’m in a happy, healthy relationship and therefore I’d like to explore what that looks like. Also, almost half of marriages end in divorce, so it’s better to make sure that you’re marrying the right person, otherwise you’ll have to go find another ‘right’ person.
Here are a few characteristics of a healthy relationship:
Honesty and openness
It can be very intimidating opening yourself up to the person you love the most because then you let them in on your personal demons. Being that vulnerable can be hard, but it can bring you closer as a couple and make you understand each other better. If you and your significant other can have open and honest conversations about the difficult things in life and your relationship (without judgement) then that’s a good sign that you’ll last.1,2
As mentioned, communication is very important – communicating what is bothering you and what your needs are.1 Communication is something to work on since most people are reserved about their vulnerabilities and weaknesses.3
Communication, openness, and honesty are all things that create trust, and that is probably the most important ingredient of a healthy relationship.2,3
Focus on the positive
Instead of focusing on your partner’s negative traits and behaviours or habits, focus on what they do well. Focusing on the positives can lead to a long-lasting relationship because one person does not feel judged or like they’re not good enough.1
Also, I’ve found that if you focus on the positives it motivates that person to keep doing the positive thing to get your praise and feel good about themselves. Judging and being negative about a trait that you would want to change will probably have the opposite effect.
Obviously, if something is bothering you and is starting to become a hindrance in the relationship, have an honest chat about it and see if you can come to a compromise.
I don’t like that word. Yes, sometimes tempers flare, but I don’t like screaming and shouting (although I can’t say it won’t happen). The way that you as a couple deal with conflict and disagreements is very important. Do you just ignore it, or do you scream and shout and brood for ages? That’s not healthy. Thus, conflict resolution is very important.2,3
I’ve heard that a healthy couple focuses on fixing the problem rather than focusing on who is right, and I wholeheartedly agree. Also, make sure that you apologise – a sincere apology, not just because you feel like you have to.1
It’s hard, but sometimes you have to take responsibility and admit that you were wrong and need to make a change.2 Further, empathy is important, because you have to try and understand where that person is coming from and why they do the things they do.3 Sometimes someone hurts you without knowing or wanting to, so trying to understand their point of view is essential for conflict resolution.
You’re a team
This is your partner in life we’re talking about. Of course, you need to work as a team. You can decide who is responsible for what. If you can agree on that, there won’t be as much resentment and disappointment.1
Being part of a team also means that you grow together as a couple, but also as individuals. No one wants to feel like they’re stagnating in their relationship. You don’t want to feel like this person is holding you back. So, grow together by growing as individuals. Remember, it’s not fifty-fifty, it’s hundred-hundred.1 Growing together also entails that you support each other’s journeys on the path of self-growth.4
In your relationship (or team) you want to feel like each partner is putting the same amount of effort into the relationship and making compromises, no matter how insignificant. Also, you want to feel equal in terms of your career and hobbies.2,3
It’s important to not be sucked in by a relationship and to ensure that each partner still has their own identity separate from the relationship. This entails that you both still maintain your relationships with your family, friends, and other people in your life.4 In this way you can also still be independent. This also means having your hobbies and goals outside of the relationship.2,4
Shared values and goals
It comes down to whether you have the same morals and if you want the same things out of life. That’s a deal-breaker, isn’t it? If the one wants to focus on their career and not have kids and the other one wants a family, it’s going to cause some conflict.1
This is also very applicable to money. A lot of couples fight about money and if you can avoid that then you’re already better off. If both partners are financially stable – as in you’re not living paycheque to paycheque, you’re 51% less likely to split up.1
I think it’s important to agree on how to spend your money and how to save it. If one loves spending and the other is more orientated towards saving, there will be some conflict. It’s also important for each partner to have a bit of money just for themselves with which they can buy stupid stuff, no questions asked.
You want what is best for the other person
You want what is best for your partner in every way. When they achieve their goals, you celebrate it with them. You care about them and want to know what is going on in that head of theirs. You are there for your partner when they need you because not everyone is always strong – sometimes you need someone through hard times. It also means that you respect your partner and their boundaries.1
You make them feel good about themselves
Here I don’t mean you should be insincere, but you should show them appreciation and tell them they’re awesome (I’m assuming that’s why you’re with them).3 If they did something for you, say thank you. Also, show interest in the things they’re passionate about, it’s a bummer when you’re excited about something and the person you love is nonchalant about it. In general, be kind, patient, and respect them.1,2
In short, you should be your partner’s safe place, where they will find love, support, and comfort.2
Attraction in a long-term relationship is not all about sexual attraction – although it is important. I mean, well, this is the person you’re going to have sex with for the foreseeable future, so you want that physical attraction and sexual chemistry.1
Obviously, you want to be attracted to your partner sexually. But couples who on average stay together the longest, put more emphasis on inner beauty and personality traits than on physical appearance.1
Here your partner’s love language is also important. People love and want to be loved in different ways, and this must be communicated. Thus, couples who communicate successfully and know how to love each other are more likely to stay together.1
Long relationship before marriage
Couples who dates for three years or more before marriage are about 40% less likely to get divorced (according to one study).1 I read somewhere that it takes about 18–24 months for the feeling of being in love to go away. We all know how intoxicating that feeling can be.
The logic behind a long relationship before marriage makes sense for a few reasons. Firstly, as mentioned, the ‘in love’ hormone wears off, so you can see the person for who they really are. Secondly, you get to know the person a lot better the more time you spend with them, and then you know whether you have the same values and lifestyles. Basically, you will know if you’re compatible. During that time, you’ll also have time to talk about the future and see whether you want the same things out of life, and have a chance to plan out how to get those things.1
I believe that you have to marry your best friend who you also want to jump on. Honestly, that is the person you are meant to spend your life with. If you’re not besties you’re going to have a bad time.
This means that you have to like each other, not just as intimate partners, but also each other’s personality and company. This has to be the person you can be yourself and have fun with.2,3 To repeat, definitely marry your best friend.1
No perfect relationship
Relationships have their ups and downs, but a good one brings a lot more good than bad into your life, and if you go through a bad time you go through it together.4 Also, a good relationship or marriage isn’t something that just happens, you have to work on it.1
No relationship is perfect, but I feel the 80/20 rule is applicable here. If your relationship is 80% great and the other 20% you can live with (abuse being the exception) then you have an amazing relationship.
Love in the time of COVID-19 is difficult, but I think we can still make it work. What do you think? Contact details below.
P.S. If you’d like to contact me, feel free to comment below, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter @M_ClutterBox.
P.P.S: I used these sources: