“Where is this coming from?”
How many times have you asked that as a fight starts with your significant other?
At first, it was a nice dinner you were making together. You cooked without a care in the world.
A nice quiet evening…you thought.
Then they got mad that a cabinet door was left open. Then it turned into how you never help clean up the kitchen. And now you’re in the middle of an all-out brawl.
Again…where is this coming from?
Prince Charming and the princess probably never get into fights over open cabinets. Shouldn’t this be your happily ever after?
How can you find the fairy tale perfect relationship?
What Is the Perfect Relationship?
Pop culture and Hollywood would have us believe that there is the perfect relationship out there for us.
All we need to do is find “the one.”
The reality, though, is there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.
We don’t get to see the rest of the story after “happily ever after,” but I can assure you they bickered about the most mundane things too.
It might be hard to accept this truth, but once we do, we will have a much clearer road to healthy relationships.
And that is the key.
We need to change the way we talk about finding the perfect relationship. It shouldn’t be about finding “the one.”
It needs to be about finding a relationship that’s healthy.
Healthy might be a little general. So let’s find some specifics.
There are three things that every relationship has in some shape or form:
- Passion–the physical attraction between two partners
- Intimacy–how close you are emotionally to your partner
- Commitment–both of your willingness to see things through when passion and intimacy fade for a period.
What we see as the perfect relationship is often the passion aspect of the whole picture.
We meet someone new, and everything is fresh and exciting.
It’s what we see in pop culture too. Once a couple finally gets together in a story, that’s the ultimate victory.
Long relationships require more. No matter how good a relationship is, the passion will fade in and out.
The ups and downs of life don’t stop just because two people have found each other.
That’s where the other two come in. Intimacy helps connect you with a deeper part of your partner.
Commitment is that bridge of trust you build over time that brooks any faults you both bring to the table.
No relationship is perfect because no individual person is perfect either.
This doesn’t mean you can’t improve. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
Healthy relationships have growth mindsets.
No matter how good you think your relationship is, there’s always something that can be improved.
Signs of a Healthy Relationship
Everything on this list will help keep a healthy balance of Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment.
If you see these in your relationship, you are building something healthy.
1. Quality time
We get so busy in our lives that we often forget what’s most important.
Whether it’s work, hobbies, school, family, or friends, our lives have a way of chipping away at our time.
When we leave nothing for our partner, we lose the passion and intimacy parts of our relationships.
Couples that make time for each other grow closer to each other.
Because we all want to feel accepted and understood.
What better way to feel accepted than when your partner makes you priority one?
2. Honest Communication
Without proper communication, we quickly lose our understanding of each other.
Our partners aren’t mind readers, as much as we wish they could be.
Saying how we feel is crucial to start a conversation that helps make our relationship healthier.
That means being vulnerable, which I won’t pretend is easy.
Without vulnerability, though, we can’t build trust.
This goes hand in hand with communication.
Your partner just told you how terrible they feel after a hard day at work.
You say, “sounds tough” and click on the T.V.
Not only did you disregard their feelings, you didn’t give them the time of day to talk about it.
We need understanding from our partners, even more than a solution.
There might not be anything you can do about that co-worker of your spouse, but you can listen.
4. Dreaming Together
What do you want this year? Next year? How about ten years from now?
Have you talked with your partner about your hopes and dreams? Do you share any? Do you make plans together at all?
If you want a long term relationship, there will be long term goals for both of you.
A couple that dreams together stays together.
This can deepen intimacy because you have a long term understanding of each other’s emotional desires.
5. Good Arguments
Yes, you read that right.
Arguments are a necessary thing in every relationship.
Being honest means there will be times you disagree with each other.
It’s making those arguments healthy that gets tricky.
If you tear down the other person, using their fears and emotions against them, your relationship will suffer.
Arguments aren’t meant to be a place where you get back at one another, but an avenue for growth.
Remember, our relationships need to have a growth mindset to be healthy.
We need to grow as individuals as much as we need to grow as a couple.
Getting those things on the table in healthy arguments can help both parties grow.
If perfect relationships existed, then this wouldn’t be needed.
But we know there’s no such thing. No one is perfect.
We all need to be given grace when we are wrong and mess up.
A safe place is made when you are allowed to make mistakes.
When couples don’t hold each other to impossible standards, they begin to grow their self-esteem.
Practicing a Growth Mindset for a Healthy Relationship
Trying to attain the perfect relationship is only going to lead you down a path of disappointment.
Since no one is perfect, you will always find something “wrong” with another person.
That’s why grace and commitment are so important.
Building up good habits for your relationship takes time and practice.
But here’s a simple way of thinking about it:
What can you do today, this week, this month, and this year for your partner?
Once a day…
Take time to be purposefully present with your partner.
This doesn’t have to be hours out of your schedule. Even one minute helps.
We want to be understood and appreciated in a relationship.
Sometimes a small moment where the two of you hold each other, greet each other when you get home from work, or sit with each other without distraction is enough to foster that feeling.
Take a moment—every day.
Once a week…
Find a way to build your partner’s confidence.
Boost their self-esteem. It can be easy to forget we all need to be told something positive about ourselves.
Who doesn’t want to hear that they look good?
Is there anyone that can do without a compliment about their cooking?
A simple comment can go a long way.
We feel accepted, appreciated, and understood.
Doing this will help you see how your partner sees themselves while also realizing what they love about you.
It builds communication and empathy as you create a healthy space for each other.
Once a month…
Have a relationship check-up.
No relationship is perfect.
Frustrations and disappointments lie just under the surface.
Instead of letting those things become much bigger problems down the road, get a tune-up regularly.
Like we learned earlier, there is such a thing as a good argument.
Healthy relationships communicate, and that means telling each other things that are getting under your skin and expectations that weren’t met.
As tiring as these conversations can be, if you have them before you blow up in anger, you are much more likely to listen to each other.
Empathy works best when negative emotions aren’t bombarding you.
Once a year…
Recap your year and plan for the next one.
A relationship is like exploring a new place. Once you become more familiar with it, you find your favorite spots.
When you go over your favorite things from the year, not only do you learn more about each other, you see what you want more of as a couple.
Maybe camping wasn’t your thing, but you find that you loved your camping trip this year.
Finding out why you did can help you plan for more adventures together.
Setting goals makes getting what you want out of your upcoming year something much more realistic.
How will you know what you succeeded in doing together if you don’t have any marker to shoot for?
When you set expectations together, you can both get on the same page from the start.
Building a Better Relationship
Expectations need to be grounded in reality.
The sooner we move away from the fairy tale hopes for our relationships, the sooner we get a healthy relationship.
It takes two people to make a long term relationship work.
Both of you need to have a growth mindset.
Both need to set expectations for each other and yourselves.
Our pop culture has trained us to think that relationships are there to complete us.
There is “the one” that is perfect for us out there, and our relationship will be perfect too.
Keep your expectations realistic.
If we constantly use another person in the relationship as a means to find completeness, we will never really be ourselves.
We will only be chameleons.
Always be working to make yourself healthier in the relationship.
The more healthy you are, the more healthy your relationship will be.