People seeking couples counseling seek change to a relationship dynamic that isn’t working in some way. The problems can include poor communication, lack of emotional safety, resentment, trust violation and issues in between. Those who have the makings of a strong relationship foundation, or demonstrate an ability to develop some of the aspects, can do quite well in repairing their relationships.
Here are 10 characteristics of successful relationships:
- Friendship: Couples who have a strong friendship have staying power. They not only love each other but genuinely like each other as people. They enjoy hanging out together. They might even consider each other their “best friend.”
- Humor: Partners who can make each other laugh tend to be good at de-escalating conflicts when they arise.
- Communication: Those who are able to openly express their feelings and avoid burying hurt or anger, typically deal with situations as they come up which can avoid the build up of resentment.
- Chore Sharing: Those who divvy up the household or parenting responsibilities in a way that is mutually agreed upon way are less likely to hold resentments about what they perceive as “unfair.” Each participates and contribute to the relationship in this way.
- Sexual Intimacy: Couples who have their sexual needs met or at least have negotiated a reasonable compromise if their levels of need aren’t compatible, feel taken care of by the other. Some equate sex with being loved so even more important to some.
- Affection: A hug, kiss, swat on the rear, tussle of the hair are affectionate acts that keep couples connected, even more important when life is hectic.
- Avoidance of the “Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: This is a term coined by couples researcher, John Gottman,PhD, who claims to be able to predict divorce with incredible accuracy. His “four horsemen of the apocalypse” are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The more these behaviors occur in a relationship, the more it is damaged.
- Mutual and Separate Friends: Partners who socialize with other couples and also maintain separate friendships have greater balance in regards to honoring themselves as individuals, within the relationship. Self satisfaction and fulfillment can translate to relationship satisfaction.
- Reliability: Most of us want follow-through with our friendships and our partners. If couples do what they say and say what they do, they create an atmosphere of safety in knowing their words mean something to the other. They are the port in each other’s storms.
- Repair Attempts: When partners take responsibility for their mistakes with each other and make effort to apologize or repair the problem, the other has less of a chance of building up negative feelings. This is the opposite of blame and requires an ability to be humble.