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Labor of Love: Signs You are in a Great Relationship

In our culture, a lot of attention is focused on the negative aspects of romance, love, and marriage. But today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to celebrate great relationships and look at what keeps them going and growing. This post is about all the things that make being a part of a committed romantic relationship so rewarding.  

What keeps people together for decades, loving and supporting one another? 
Some of the key components of a healthy, lasting relationship are trust, communication, affection, and commitment. In a healthy relationship, there is play, laughter, and pleasure. There is also respect and support for one another. When people commit to one another and build their lives together, it takes consistent work, but as love and affection grow and bonds get stronger, the rewards of commitment are many.  The stability of a strong relationship can enable individuals to grow in ways they might not have otherwise had the courage to. In great relationships you often find mutual admiration, which prompts them to become better themselves. In fact, in the best relationships, the partner becomes a mirror in which we see ourselves, good and not-so-good, and are inspired to grow emotionally and spiritually as a result.  As young adults transition out of college and into careers, many will likewise move from hooking up and fooling around into more serious, longer term relationships. It is important to know what a great relationship looks like. Let’s look at some of the signs a relationship has what it takes to stand the test of time.

You trust one another.

Trust is a foundational element of healthy relationships. Empathy and compassion for one another enables partners in loving relationships to treat each other as they want to be treated. Trust naturally develops in a relationship where two people treat one another with respect and compassion. In a great relationship you trust your partner in all kinds of different circumstances, knowing that there is loyalty and commitment.

You are invested in one another’s lives and goals.

You know what your partner wants to accomplish and they know what your goals are. You help one another to be more successful. You support one another through difficult times and celebrate one another’s success and achievements.

You work at cultivating effective communication.

If trust is the engine of a good relationship, communication is the fuel that keeps that engine running. Happy couples communicate often and, sharing joys and disappointments alike. They support and console one another when things are challenging and are there for a great big high five when things go well.  

Some indicators of great communication:

  • You are willing to listen to your partner’s opinions even while arguing
  • You can talk about things that make you feel vulnerable, like fears and anxieties
  • You engage in consistently respectful dialogues
  • Able to speak openly, freely sharing opinion and feelings and you feel comfortable and heard when expressing feelings
  • You listen without criticizing

Together  these elements of good communication lead partners to feel connected and comfortable communicating with one another. They help establish an environment where affection and loyalty can grow.  Communicating through conflict allows relationships to grow stronger.

You have genuine affection for one another.

You enjoy spending time with your partner, you have common activities and interests. You look forward to being together. In great relationships, partners typically have a number of  shared interests as well and many independent activities.

Respect for commitment.

You both value the relationship. You know that nothing in life is certain and that you are fortunate to have one another to share the ups and downs with. You feel gratitude for your partner and the life you have with them.

Relationships can be hard work, but when you do the work, they are incredibly rewarding. By sharing the good days and bad days with someone, you learn more about yourself and become a better person. Trust and communication lead to a connection between people that can provide individuals with the kind of love that enhances life tremendously.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to further discuss the relationships in your life. I am available to young professionals and emerging adults who are ready to overcome their challenges on a quest to transform their lives!  My website it full of blog entries and useful content to help you along your way, and I hope you find this free content useful on your journey. Feel free to reach out to me directly if have any questions or if you are interested in scheduling a private session.

Dr. Eileen Wynne

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