• How To Have a Healthy Relationship

    A healthy relationship is when we keep our partner and what we create together – the relationship – in the forefront of our mind.

    It’s having the understanding – usually through hard-won experience – that we’ll benefit more from helping the relationship be better rather than just trying to feel better in the moment.

    Helping the relationship be better means checking our non-relational impulses. Two nonrelational impulses I’ll write about here are anger and the mismanagement of “thirds.”

    To take anger first, say I’m angry and I resort to yelling and name-calling.

    Essentially, I’m trying to feel better at the expense of the relationship. I’ve forgotten about my partner and the relationship and am indulging in the intoxicating feeling of anger. This causes my partner and the relationship to suffer, which ultimately leads me to suffer.

    Trying to feel better in the moment through anger conveys a lack of maturity and leads to an unhealthy relationship.

    This anger was most likely learned growing up and is a knee-jerk response that helped me get through my early life. Such behavior may have been adaptive then, but it’s maladaptive now, and it can run a relationship into the ground.

    In a healthy relationship, when I’m angry, I’ll take time if I need to, and share my upset in a way that can be heard. This takes practice, but a good place to start is sharing the feeling(s) beneath the anger and ending on a request. When I do so, the relationship can get better, and in turn so can I.

    The second non-relational impulse I’ll discuss here is mismanaging “thirds.”

    Thirds are activities, habits or individuals we turn to at the relationship’s expense. They can be work, school, hobbies, parents, an affair partner (on the extreme end), or alcohol or other substances.

    If we are mismanaging a third, chances are we are turning to it instead of our partner. We may do so because the relationship has soured, because we are depressed or anxious, or because we have an unexamined fear of losing our autonomy.

    If one partner feels like they are losing out to a third, or we always turn to it when the going gets tough, then we create an unhealthy relationship.

    Instead, we need to understand that we can roll up our sleeves and work on the relationship instead of seeking relief outside of it, and a couple’s counselor or coach can facilitate this.

    Creating a healthy relationship is not easy, but it’s another way of working on our mental health. We need to have faith and intuit that we can have both autonomy and a healthy relationship – in fact, healthy relationships are a balance of the two.

    When we work to make the relationship better, instead of trying to feel better in the moment, we create a healthy relationship. This is the highest form of self-interest. Continually doing so creates a culture wherein it’s easier again to do nice things for each other – such as spending quality time together and conveying love and appreciation. When both partners are involved, this creates a positive cycle, which over time is how we develop a healthy relationship.

    1. Cyprian

      Cyprian

      October 11, 2021 at 8:12 pm -
      Reply

      Great insights on how to create better relationships rather than fleeting moments!

      1. Jason Polk

        Jason Polk

        October 11, 2021 at 8:59 pm -
        Reply

        Thank you Cyprian for reading and for feedback!

    2. David b Friedentag

      David b Friedentag

      October 11, 2021 at 11:58 pm -
      Reply

      Such helpful information.

      1. Jason Polk

        Jason Polk

        October 12, 2021 at 1:41 am -
        Reply

        Thanks for the feedback David, I really appreciate it!

    3. […] also great about this, is that our children learn what collaboration looks like. They learn what a healthy relationship looks like if we continue with this […]

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