I recently received a few emails requesting I write about how to have a healthy relationship – specifically a healthy marriage. Long-term, committed relationships like marriage can start out great and, over time, depending on what life throws at us, can become impaired, argumentative, and disconnected. It’s always wonderful to see marriages that have stood the test of time. Why some marriages last and others do not is usually based on many factors including the physical and emotional health of the individuals in the marriage, each one’s understanding of what commitment is, and how to work toward the common good together. Marriage is one of the most selfless acts we can participate in because it’s about prioritizing that relationship above and beyond all other relationships.
Richard Innes, who has a spiritually-based website called ACTS International, writes that, “Marriage is a commitment of one imperfect person to another imperfect person.” Yikes! We’re imperfect? He goes on to discuss his secrets of a successful marriage being based on commitment, responsibility, effective communication, and time management. Interestingly, these mirror Claudia Black, PhDs, relationship handout in her workbook Relapse Toolkit. Black is a renowned addictions therapist in Arizona. She writes that the characteristics of a healthy relationship are respect, honesty, realistic expectations, trust, autonomy, shared power, tenderness, time, commitment, and forgiveness. So we have secrets and we have characteristics, tools that regular folks like us – those imperfect types – can start putting into practice.
As a therapist, I don’t really prescribe to the “practice makes perfect” philosophy. We’re human beings, and there’s a pretty good chance we’re imperfect beings from the get go! I think that both Innes and Black would agree with that. What I like about the idea of practicing is that we’re allowed to make mistakes, correct, and try again. Being perfect is not even part of the equation. Practicing respect, effective communication, forgiveness or any one of the tools mentioned above creates a sense of action, generating solutions, and taking an active interest in the relationship. For those of you reading this blog and feeling you could benefit from practicing these tools, give it a whirl. Even if your marriage is already pretty good, maybe there’s something that could be improved upon. Let your spouse know what you’re up to and invite him or her to join you in making things better.
I know this is a huge topic, with endless possibilities to write on and discuss. My intention is to write on this again next time and see where it takes us. One of the things I love most about working for and with Alegent is the shared desire to serve others. So, please know that you are invited to comment or ask questions. We are here to serve you.