They’re funny things, relationships. We all have them but, more often than not, it’s the luck of the draw how they play out! The question lurking at the back of many people’s minds is, “if luck hasn’t been on my side so far, is there anything I can do to still have a healthy relationship?” Our answer is a resounding YES. Follow these 3 simple steps to begin your journey of learning how to have a healthy relationship, starting today.
The reality is that, in relationships, what we each bring to the party impacts the health of our relationship, for better or worse, big time! Baggage IN, Baggage OUT. And that is often where the challenges begin.
Now, unless you’ve hooked yourself up with a madman or woman, it’s helpful to stop and recognise that they’re probably thinking the things they think, doing they things they do, and saying the things they say, for a reason. To improve the health of your relationship, you have to start by understanding what those reasons are. WHY they are the way the are. (And if you need any convincing on why it’s important to start with the WHY? question when things don’t go as we would assume, check out Simon Sinek’s awe-inspiring TED Talk HERE).
In relationship land, we call understanding your partner’s WHY, GETTING MORE UNDERSTANDING. That’s what these 3 steps are about:
Step 1 – Get to know each other better.
Begin by recognising that YOUR PARTNER IS NOT YOU! Spend some time thinking about just HOW DIFFERENT you both really are (how you THINK, FEEL and ACT differently), and WHY that might be. The simple answer to the WHY question lies buried partly in the fact that we are all “wired” differently (think DNA, male/female physiological differences, personality differences, etc), and partly in the outcome from having all been “groomed” and “exposed” differently (No two people in a couple relationship have grown up in the same family setting and so, at the very least, they may have different expectations of how people behave in certain situations).
A great way to improve your understanding of each other is to learn both yours and your partner’s personality type and emotional needs (Love Languages). [See Resources link at the end of this blog if you need help with this]
Then write down a list of your respective strengths and weaknesses and think about WHAT are the likely benefits of each strength, and the potential impact of each weakness on your relationship? Identifying your own strengths can be very empowering. Identifying your partner’s can be both humbling and enlightening.
Step 2 – Get on the same page.
Spend some time discussing and working out what you both want out of life and your relationship – your dreams, goals and aspirations. It should come as no surprise that people who head off in different directions and never really discuss it, grow apart!
A great framework to use in getting on the same page on your long-term objectives is the 5Fs of Faith, Family, Friendship, Fitness, Finances. To that list I have found it helpful to add Fulfilment (your personal development goals) and Foundation (the difference you would like your life to make).
Step 3 – Agree your own set of “ground rules” and stick to them.
Based on what’s important to each of you (and not just what you may have seen your Mum & Dad do), agree rules you’ll both abide by. This will be different for every couple but will likely include things like: NOT walking out while arguing / threatening divorce /fighting dirty / sweeping disagreements under the carpet, and on the positive side: Respecting each other’s privacy / fidelity / etc.
Taking these 3 steps will help build an awesome foundation for your relationship, whether you’re just starting out, or having been together for years. For recommendations and FREE resources to help with taking these 3 steps see our courses here!