We all desire to have a relationship that is filled with happiness, joy, and — most importantly — love.
Unfortunately, for many of us, we’ve been exposed to so many unhealthy relationships in our lives that we don’t know what a truly healthy relationship even looks and feels like. So here are 10 characteristics of a healthy relationship:
1. Both partners know that they are responsible for their own individual happiness.
Many people unfortunately fall into the bad habit of believing and expecting that our partner is meant to be our source of all happiness, love and fulfillment in our lives. However, in a truly vibrant and healthy relationship, neither partner expects the other to be the source of all their happiness in life. Both people know and understand that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness and well-being. They each know that they are there to support and help one another, but they both know that they are ultimately responsible for themselves.
2. Neither person is really trying to control or “fix” the other person.
If one person is more of a procrastinator while the other always gets their work done early, the other person isn’t going to try to “fix” them by pushing them to get their work done early in a healthy relationship. Both people respect one another’s differences. One doesn’t try to force the other to change or be anything different then themselves.
The reality is that nobody wants to be changed or fixed — especially if it’s unsolicited! If the person really truly wants to change, then they will ask for help on their own terms and in their own way. Change isn’t going to happen through nagging or force.
3. The relationship is balanced.
No one person has any more power over decisions made as a couple than the other. Both people have an equal say and have equal control over decisions made and both equally respect each other as a different and unique human being.
Now, it may be that the decisions made are different for each person. Such as, one person is more focused on interior decorations while the other is more focused on finances because it better highlights each person’s strengths. But, aggregately, everything is 50-50.
4. Conflicts are dealt with head-on and then dropped.
In a heathy relationship, conflicts aren’t a deal breaker. Just because a conflict happens, it doesn’t signal that it’s time to just check out and move on to something else. Rather, the conflict is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. Both sides openly share their feelings and views honestly and with respect.
Conflict is accepted as a natural part of life and any frustrations are dealt with early rather than repressed and brought back up time and time again.
5. Feelings are shared honestly and openly.
Both people share their genuine feelings with one another freely. Both partners respect and accept the other’s feelings. Expressing one another’s true feelings aren’t repressed because both partners know that by not sharing them and that by not accepting the other person’s feelings it will cause conflicts later on.
6. Each person makes time to take care of themselves.
Both people in the relationship understand and know that self-care is an absolutely vital component for a healthy relationship. They know that if they don’t take care of themselves and do things for themselves that they will be stressed, drained, and exhausted. They know that when they don’t take care of themselves, they have little love to give to their partner.
7. Both partners are willing to put the relationship before themselves.
In a healthy relationship, both partners are able and willing to consider their partner when making decisions. They don’t just go off and plan a trip for themselves without discussing it with the other person. They make room in their lives for the other person and are willing to work together as a unit.
8. Both people understand and accept that they’re not going to agree on everything.
In a healthy relationship, both partners know that it is perfectly okay to agree to disagree. They know that just because one partner has one viewpoint, it doesn’t mean that the other has to completely agree. They know that having differences in opinion and beliefs doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.
9. They both truly value the relationship.
Both partners are loyal to one another and willing to work through conflicts together. They both truly believe in the relationship and are committing to the lessons and growth that come while being together — despite the challenges that come up.
10. They want to be together simply for the sake of being together.
For some of us, we can find ourselves staying in a relationship because we want some kind of security. That can be emotional, physical, financial, or whatever. In a truly healthy relationship both people want to be together because they genuinely want to be together for the sake of living a life with the other person. Security isn’t a primary motivation to be in the relationship, as the motivation of genuine love runs so much deeper than the security that can be gained on a physical level.
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Ask yourself: What characteristics on this list are you amazing at? What characteristics could you use some work on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Jennifer is a self and relationship coach, writer, and spiritual teacher. She is the founder of JenniferTwardowski.com and the creator of Ignite Love from Within: Meditations to Create Relationships and a Life Filled with Love, click here for a free meditation from the album. Her mission is to help women create loving relationships with both others and themselves. Click here for her Free Self and Relationship Healing Meditation and weekly blog updates. To learn about how you can work with her, click here.
For many first-time visitors, Hawaii is a place where perfect weather and pristine beaches make for good vacationing and pretty postcards.
But Hawaii is much more than its idyllic setting. For native Hawaiians and those lucky enough to call the islands home, Hawaii is a way of life and a way of thinking. The native Hawaiian concepts of pono, aloha, aina, ohana and mana are crucial to understanding how Hawaii has consistently ranked as the least stressed and happiest state in America.
Apply these concepts to your own life and you may begin to understand what all the fuss is about.
1. Pono generally translates to righteousness. According to actor Jason Scott Lee, who grew up in Hawaii, living pono means living “with a conscious decision to do the right thing in terms of self, others, and the environment.” The idea that moral character leads to happiness has been around since Aristotle, but few places incorporate the idea into everyday life as much as Hawaii. The importance of pono, or doing what is morally right and selfless, is even found in the state’s motto: “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono,” or “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
2. Aloha: When you look up “aloha” in the Hawaiian dictionary, every warm and fuzzy word in the English language pops up: love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity. Aloha is most often used as a greeting or parting phrase to create an atmosphere of friendliness and love, but the aloha spirit is a part of everything in Hawaii: people surf with aloha, cook with aloha, and even write work emails with aloha. It’s as if people in Hawaii are constantly surrounded by an affirmation or mantra to live life with love.
3. Aina means land. Life in Hawaii is lived outdoors — malls, homes, offices, and even the airport are built with open-air walkways, large windows, or lanais (balconies or patios) so you’re never fully indoors. Native Hawaiians see their identities and wellbeing entwined with the land, and so respecting it and living in it are of the utmost importance. You don’t have to live in a tropical paradise to be connected to nature, however. A recent Canadian program initiated by the David Suzuki Foundation challenged participants to get out into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. According to Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet who conducted the research, participants reported “significant increases in their sense of well-being, feeling more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity, and sleep disturbances were all reduced.” Simply having lunch outside or taking a stroll through a park can help reconnect you to the aina.
4. Ohana, as the movie Lilo & Stitch taught us, means family. The word comes from oha, which is the highly revered taro plant, and it signifies that all ohana come from the same root. No matter how distantly ancient Hawaiians were related, they recognized that they all came from the same root and thus were all part of the same family. Ohana is more generally used to describe any group of people with a common bond; people in Hawaii have a community ohana, a friends ohana, even a work ohana. One of the clearest findings from happiness research is that humans are social creatures — we need to feel like we’re part of a group and that we have support and security. Imagine how differently you would feel if you approached your work colleagues like they were your family.
5. Mana translates to mean power, but the native Hawaiian concept of power doesn’t equate to material possessions or what floor your office is on. Mana is a life energy that flows through all things and is highly individual: you have a chance to gain or lose mana in everything you do. In Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism, Charlotte Berney explains that, “Having meaningful work to do, enjoying harmonious relationships with those around you, and being of service in some way all help to gather mana.”
Perhaps one of the best examples of mana can be seen in the late Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s life and career. The beloved Inouye was often described as soft-spoken, modest, and a man of integrity, and his mana led him to be the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history. His last word was “aloha.”