Building a healthy relationship
Healthy relationships do not just happen. Building a healthy relationship takes time, patience, and intentional effort.
Have you ever seen the TV series “The amazing race”? Teams of two set out to reach a destination that only gets clear to them along the way. They would follow clues that lead them to a checkpoint where they would find another clue. This clue will guide them to the next checkpoint, and then the next. After passing several checkpoints, the team would eventually arrive at the finish line for that stage of the race. The next day they would start another leg of the race with its own checkpoints, and so it would go on.
Relationships are a lot like the amazing race. In a relationship your partner and yourself form a team. You have some checkpoints to reach if you want to make progress in your journey. The journey of relationship doesn’t really end. We are constantly navigating new stages that all have their own checkpoints.
Moving towards a healthy relationship
They say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. This could not be more true for relationships. Although the destination we wan’t to reach in a relationship is connection, the journey is where the magic happens. If you reach these 5 checkpoint throughout your journey, you are well on your way to reaching the destination of a happy marriage where your partner and you both experience connection and intimacy
1. Who am I?
This is the first checkpoint you need to reach in order to arrive at a strong relationship. Two halves don’t make a whole when it comes to relationships. You cannot expect to bring joy and love to a relationship if you don’t even know how to obtain those virtues on your own. We are constantly growing and developing. How can we possibly expect to have a strong relationship if we don’t even have an idea of who we are. The search for our unique identity and purpose is a journey all of us need to make. If we expect our partner to reveal our identity to us, we set them up for failure. It is true that relationships help us to grow in our identity, but we need to own the responsibility for that growth. If we don’t, we’ll end up draining the life and energy out of our partners. Stop asking what you can gain from this relationship. Establish your identity and ask yourself: “What do I bring to this relationship?”
2. Two worlds collide
If the two of us were the same, then one of us wouldn’t be needed in this relationship. Along with having a clear sense of identity, it is also important to understand that your partner will have an identity of their own. It will most probably be different than yours, and it will probably cause some conflict. The conflict is not bad, but the way we deal with conflict might be. When you make it a priority to understand and celebrate how your partner is unique and valuable, you end up learning from their perspectives in stead of being threatened by it. Make sure you don’t skip the checkpoint of letting your two worlds collide and really seeing your partner for who they are.
Understanding who you are and realising that the two of you differ are just the first two checkpoints to reach. The next step is to ask yourself where you will go with this knowledge. Along with having a clearly defined identity, both as individuals and as a couple, it is important to also have some vision and direction. Vision gives purpose to pain, and without it you will most probably not endure the obstacles one may face in a relationship. It’s not a question of “if” you’ll face them, but “when” you do. Apart from sustaining the relationship through hardships, this checkpoint will also ensure that you leave a legacy by consciously working towards something great. You will feel more fulfilled in your personal life, but will also grow closer as a team in your relationship.
4. Strengthening the connection
Now that you have some clarity and vision, it is time to intentionally work on strengthening your connection. Great relationship don’t just happen. They are a result of intentional efforts to show love and increase the strength of your bond. A relationship is a lot like a garden. I need to sow the the right seeds for the right plants to grow, but I also need some tools to maintain the garden. We know it’s important to regularly make time to tend our gardens, but we somehow manage to forget to tend our relationships. There are many tools we can utilise to strengthen our connection. There are books on the topic, there are relationship coaches we can work with, there are online courses we can take together, but it is important that we start getting intentional about strengthening the connection. Have you made it a priority to pass this checkpoint regularly? How are you strengthening your connection?
5. Community and accountability
If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together - African proverb
The final checkpoint is to make sure you are part of a larger community. In your relationship you will have a sense of community, which is good, but there aren’t many things that come close to being part of a larger family. Accountability has always been viewed as a way of checking up on us; a way of making sure we don’t mess up. Fortunately that is not the only thing accountability is for. Within a healthy community we can “keep an account of our abilities”. We remind each other of who we are and what we are capable of. We do not look for faults, but we encourage each other to live up to our abilities.
These are 5 checkpoints that you can regularly explore within your relationships. Each time you journey past one of them you will discover something new. At each of these checkpoints one can explore many more ways to strengthen your relationship. May your amazing race be a journey that inspires those around you to also run the race to a strong, fulfilling, and healthy relationship.
What goals do you have for your life or relationship? Inspire us by sharing them in the comments below.