married couple holding hands

Understanding Healthy Relationships

Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses; however, some relationships are healthier than others. Addressing problems early in a relationship gives both partners opportunities to resolve issues and develop healthy habits that are important for a long-lasting and satisfying relationship. Being aware of where your relationship lies on the scale of healthy and unhealthy behaviors can help you and your partner build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses to enhance your relationship.

Relationship advice and elements of a healthy relationship

Every couple experiences problems. Many issues can be resolved with effective communication, problem-solving, and a mutual commitment to persevere. Some can’t. Control and abuse are among those unhealthy behaviors that can sink a relationship. What makes one relationship more satisfying and resilient than another? Although each one is unique, there are common elements of a healthy relationship:

  • Communication. Solid communication skills are essential for a healthy relationship. Couples who resolve conflicts respectfully can work through disagreements and come away stronger. Effective communication involves speaking in a kind tone of voice, and practicing basic techniques such as using “I” statements to explain how you feel, instead of using “you” statements that blame the other person.
  • Kindness and affection. Partners in a healthy relationship display a generous dose of appreciation toward each other. They do their best to look past annoying habits and accept the other person as he or she is today. In healthy relationships, each partner concentrates on the other’s positive traits. Expressing gratitude and love in simple gestures builds intimacy and a sense of connection.
  • Fun. Romance and fun are an ongoing part of a healthy relationship, not reserved just for special occasions. Happy couples invest thought and creativity into planning dates and surprises for their significant other. Thoughtful gestures and simple rituals like a walk after dinner can become a positive habit that help bind a relationship.
  • Support. In a healthy relationship, partners help each other work toward life goals or dreams. As a team, they work toward a common goal. Support also means distributing household responsibilities fairly, not taking the other for granted, and exercising some common courtesy in all regards.
  • Respect. Mutual respect allows couples in a healthy relationship to approach sensitive topics and resolve their disagreements without damaging outbursts or engaging in ‘the silent treatment’.. In a healthy relationship, each person acknowledges the other’s physical and emotional boundaries – from how he or she wants to be touched to how he or she feels about certain things. Partners also give each other space.
  • Commitment. Healthy relationships involve regular maintenance, two people working together daily to make the relationship work well. This requires facing challenges with integrity, compassion and courage. In a healthy relationship, one partner forgives the other when he or she owns a mistake and moves forward without harboring resentment or planning revenge.

Getting help with a relationship

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and respectful relationship. If your relationship seems lacking in common elements of a healthy relationship, help is readily available.

If you recognize unhealthy patterns or behaviors in your relationship, confidential help is available 24/7. Contact your installation’s Family Advocacy Program for help or services, or contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for information or counseling. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Military OneSource can refer you to the services you require and offers confidential and non-judgmental help from experts who understand military life.

You can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. In a domestic violence emergency, call 911.

If your relationship is respectful and healthy but you want to make further improvements, consider contacting the Military and Family Life Counseling Program and Military OneSource. These programs provide short-term, confidential non-medical counseling for everyday issues such as anger management, stress, communication skills, and family relationships.