What Everyone Should Know About Healthy Relationships
Healthy relationships shouldn’t take much work. And if they do, it’s time to go our separate ways. We must be compatible. If we need therapy, our relationship is already doomed. My partner is supposed to know what I want, and what I need. Healthy couples never argue, because fighting ruins relationships.
These are just some of the common myths and misconceptions we cling to regarding what healthy romantic relationships really are, and what they really look like.
This is important. Because our beliefs affect our behavior—and how we determine the state of our relationship and our satisfaction with it. If you believe that therapy is only for couples nearing divorce or who have “real” problems, you might be missing out on a vital tool that could enhance and bolster your marriage. If you believe that your partner is supposed to instinctively know your needs, you won’t clearly express them, and you’ll be walking around feeling incredibly unsatisfied, resentful, and unfulfilled. If you think healthy relationships are effortless, you might flee at the first sign of conflict—which can actually be an opportunity to strengthen your connection, if done right.
In other words, our beliefs can set us up for relationship success—or failure. They can lead us to grow closer as a couple, or they can lead us to leave (or remain very unhappy).
As such, we spoke with several experts to shatter some common myths and share what everyone needs to know about healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships are not 50/50. In fact, some days, weeks, or months, healthy relationships might be 90/10, said Mara Hirschfeld, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has a private practice in Midtown Manhattan specializing in individuals and couples going through relationship distress.
The key is that both partners remain supportive, and have trust that these wide-ranging percentages won’t be the reality forever.
Hirschfeld shared this example: A wife feels overwhelmed at work, and needs to stay late at the office every night for a few weeks, which leaves her husband to take care of the kids and household responsibilities. The following month the husband’s mom is diagnosed with cancer, which means he needs more emotional and logistical support at home, which his wife then refocuses on.
According to Hirschfeld, the key takeaways are: “recognizing and identifying where you both are on the scale (90/10); communicating openly about this; and working hard to maintain trust and not assume malicious intent (i.e., ‘she stayed at work because she doesn’t care’ vs. ‘because she really needed to’).”
Healthy relationships have conflict. Every relationship has conflict, because human beings are complicated, and have different beliefs, desires, thoughts, and needs. After all, even siblings who share a lot of the same DNA raised in the same family are not the same.