Date nights. Sex. Fun. Goals. Good communication. Forgiveness. We’ve all heard that this is the recipe for healthy relationships. The people I see in couples counseling are surprised to learn about the darker side of healthy couples. It can be easy to believe that a good relationship just comes easy to some people. I mean, it looks so easy from the outside in, right?
The truth is, healthy relationships take a lot of work and they aren’t always pretty.
The surprising things healthy couples do:
1. Rock the Boat
Healthy couples speak up when they’re upset about something and this may end in arguments. It’s normal for couples to fight. In fact, in couples counseling sessions, I encourage it! Fighting is a sign that growth needs to happen and without it, couples stay stuck and stagnant. They let things build up and fester. A good argument can end in connection and understanding.
2. Fall out of love
Healthy couples aren’t “feelin’ it” all the time. It’s normal to go through times when you feel close and connected and then go through times when you just feel neutral. Periods of neutrality aren’t bad and it doesn’t mean your relationship is going down the tubes. Relationships go through cycles of connection, disconnection and repair. Healthy couples feel secure during these times but will also recognize when things need to be spiced up a bit.
3. Blame each other
It’s so much easier to blame our spouse, than it is to take responsibility for ourselves. Sometimes it’s deserved, and sometimes it’s not. It’s usually never effective. Healthy couples get caught in this blame cycle too and are usually able to recognize when they’ve fallen into an unhealthy mindset. They’re able to recognize the error of their ways, and correct it by either apologizing or acknowledging their blame.
4. Have their own hobbies
When relationships 1st start, it’s normal to want to spend every waking moment with each other. In fact, our bodies are FILLED with hormones that make us literally crave the other person. I equate this to a 3-legged race. At first, it’s funny and a bit of a novelty. But imagine living your life with one leg tied to another person. It’s just not healthy. Healthy couples have their own lives, their own hobbies and their own friends. They still have the things they love to do with their partner, but can have their own lives as well.
5. Take out the romance
How many times have you wished your partner would notice something? Or complement you? Plan something? Or do this one thing? And how long did you wait? Were you ever let down? Healthy couples don’t wait, they tell their partner what they want and what would be nice for them. They speak up and take all the guess work out. And while this might take some of the romance out of the relationship, no one’s really complaining because their needs are being met.
6. Hurt Each Other’s Feelings
Sometimes, when we let our partner know how we feel, it might hurt their feelings. Or, we might need to draw a boundary, and that might also hurt your partner’s feelings. If you are fully standing in your integrity and speaking your truth, it might hurt…and that’s OK. When we’re in a relationship with someone, we can’t hold back just because the truth might hurt. This is different than attacking, dumping on or criticizing your partner.
7. Think the worst
When people are irrational and flooded with emotions, they create a negative image of their partner. While there might be some element of truth to these beliefs, this image becomes exaggerated and is usually a projection of someone’s own unmet needs. Healthy couples can share this image with each other and do things to interrupt the pattern.
8. Minimize Emotions
Healthy couples know that their partner is a good person that sometimes says and does bad things. And while this might upset them, they can rest in the knowledge that their partner likely had good intentions and isn’t out to get them. They understand that their partner’s emotions are likely coming from a good place.
Having a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that everything is sunshine and roses. Healthy couples are messy too, but the love, respect and compassion that they’ve grown will eventually show up to help diffuse a hard situation.
In the event that you’re hitting some rough patches that this doesn’t solve, I’d like to invite you to reach out to one of our Lakewood, Colorado couples counselors or marriage therapists. We offer both in-person couples counseling and telehealth marriage therapy sessions. Reach out at (720) 583-5668 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about the couples counseling process. Not in Colorado, stay tuned for our upcoming Couple’s Communication Course and Relationship Workshop.