• Tricia Karp

What makes a relationship last - part 2

This is part two of a four part series of articles on what makes a (healthy) relationship last. If you missed part one, you'll find it here



Boundaries


Our boundaries communicate to other people what we're comfortable with, how we want to be treated, and what we'll tolerate and won't. They're about our relationship with ourselves first and foremost, and help us honour our own feelings, needs, values and goals. They help keep us safe and we need to enforce them when they're not respected.


A relationship is no different and has its own boundaries. In a healthy, meaningful and satisfying relationship there's respect for the sanctity of our relationship. We're mindful of what we share with others about our relationship. We don't share every intimate detail with friends and family. We don't air our dirty laundry. We don't ask one of our parents for advice about our sex life with our partner. We don't post about our relationship or share photos on social media without consent from our partner. While we might talk about our relationship with others close to us, we know what's comfortable for our partner and we honour that. If we're not sure, we check first. We're clear about what's purely ours, personal and private in our partnership, and we both honour that. This cultivates more respect and trust between us.


Boundaries also help us avoid receiving unwanted (and often not useful) opinions and advice from others about our relationship, choices and lifestyle.



Values and Vision


Shared values form the foundation of a relationship. They keep partners together when times are tough and allow us to share great joy when times are wonderful. Our values define who we are as individuals and a couple, and guide our behaviour and the choices we make. It's essential to share similar values, otherwise our relationship can be filled with disappointment and growing resentment.


While everyone's values can be different, there are some that healthy, lasting relationships share:


  • Trust ~ In a healthy, meaningful and satisfying relationship, we trust our partner fully. We don't second guess their motives or actions. We know that we - and they - can do things on their own, away from us, and we still feel safe and secure in our relationship

  • Commitment ~ We need to be clear about what commitment means for each of us and together as a couple. Are we monogamous? Polyamorous? Is our relationship open? Our desires and needs must be aligned

  • Lifestyle ~ Where do you want to live? What do you like doing at weekends? Do you drink, smoke, take drugs? What's important to you when it comes to your health? What's your approach to money? How important is sex for you? How far are you willing to compromise on these things? These are important questions to ask and answer. When our lifestyles align our relationship is much more enjoyable

  • Future plans ~ Do you want children? What's important to you in bringing them up? How important is the involvement of your family? Not being aligned here can cause all sorts of issues for a couple. When we are aligned, our relationship can become stronger

  • Personal growth and communication ~ Couples who grow together stay together. They value personal growth and clear communication. They recognise this takes work and are willing to do it, as required. They're open to learning and making an effort to change what isn't working. Conflict is one area that often requires this. Conflict happens in every relationship. That's not a problem in itself, but how we deal with it can be.


Other relationship values you might share:

  • Honesty

  • Connection

  • Caring

  • Respect

  • Sensuality

  • Having fun

  • Kindness

  • Teamwork

  • Encouragement

  • Acceptance

  • Assertiveness

  • Contribution

  • Fairness

  • Sexuality

What are your relationship's deepest values? What matters to you both? What actions do you take that are consistent - and inconsistent - with them?


Your vision as a couple is also crucial. What's your shared vision for your future? What are your dreams as a couple that you're working towards? What do you want to create together?



Own your stuff


We all have our own patterns of behaviour. We've all had negative experiences in life, to varying degrees. We all have past issues that haven't been fully resolved. These things can impact on our behaviour and we bring that to our relationships.


None of us is perfect. In a healthy, meaningful and satisfying relationship, we're aware of our patterns of behaviour and the impact they have on our relationship.


Owning our stuff means taking full responsibility for the ways we behave. It looks like not blaming our partner or denying our behaviour.


It means making a genuine effort to work on our behaviour and learn to do better, with the intention always of being kind and respectful.


How can you better own your behaviour in your relationship?


I'll be back next week with part three.


 

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Photo by Matt Bennett