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What is a Healthy Relationship Anyway?
öWhat does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? How do I get one? How will I know if I have one?ö
These are very important and real questions that need to be addressed. Wanting to be involved in a healthy, intimate relationship is a universal condition. And defining just exactly what ôhealthyö is, is a universal question.
You know you are in a healthy, intimate relationship when you have created an environment where:
- I can be me.
- You can be you.
- We can be us.
- I can grow.
- You can grow.
- We can grow together.
Essentially, thatÆs what itÆs all about. ItÆs paradoxical that a healthy relationship frees me to be myself and yet I donÆt know who I am because acquiring self-knowledge is a lifelong process. Although you may not have a strong sense of who you are, you recognize clearly when you are NOT being allowed the freedom to be you. It is clear when you are feeling judged. It is clear when you feel that you are walking on eggs. It is clear when you worry about making a mistake. In effect, the freedom to be you means that your partner will neither interfere with nor judge your process of being and becoming.
You offer your partner the same freedom that you are asking for yourself. And you accept your partner as he is, and do not try to use the power of your love to turn him into a swan. You do not get caught up in your fantasy of who you want him to be, and then concentrate on making that happen. You focus on who that person really is.
öI accept you unconditionally, and you accept unconditionally.ö ThatÆs the bottom line. It does not mean that changes in personality or actions are undesirable or impossible it merely means that you begin by accepting your partner as he or she is.
öwe are free to be us.ö Each couple defines their own relationship built on shared values and interests. First, they must decide what they each value as individuals and then they can build a oneness out of their separateness. Some of their differences are unimportant and can be either ignored or resolved. For example, issues such as, ôYou always leave the cap off the toothpaste,ö or ôI hate church socials,ö can be worked out easily.
Other differences are significant and need to be worked out if the relationship is to remain healthy and survive. Examples of more critical issues are, ôI donÆt want any children,ö or ôIÆll never have anything to do with your mother again.ö
Many experiences are enhanced because the two of you are a couple. Enjoying together the beauty of a sunset, a walk on the beach, a well-prepared meal, are examples of the ôusö that make a partnership desirable. I am enhanced when I have me, you have you and we also have us.
A healthy relationship creates an environment where I can grow. In this climate of support, I also encourage you to do the same. Through the directions of our individual growth, we develop together as a couple.
A couple also grows together by developing mutual goals and working together on ways to achieve them. Interestingly, it is the journey toward the goals, and not necessarily the goals themselves, which help the relationship grown. Whether or not you attain a goal is part of the process toward the next shared experience.
Intimacy means you have a love relationship with another person where you offer, and are offered, validation, understanding and a sense of being valued intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
To more you are willing to share and be shared with, the greater the degree of intimacy.
A healthy relationship is not a power struggle. The two of you donÆt have to think the same way about things.
A healthy relationship is not symbiotic. You do not have to feel the same way about all things.
A healthy relationship is not confined to a sexual relationship which must end in orgasm, but one that celebrates sharing and exploring.
¬1985 Janet Geringer Woititz. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Intimacy Struggle by Janet G. Woititz. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.