The 4 C’s of a Healthy Relationship
By Tiffany Lin
If you were to ask someone what are some healthy relationship characteristics, they might say trust, honesty, respect, affection, partnership... the list goes on and on. All those are important and can help foster a healthy relationship, but what I want to propose here are four fundamental characteristics on which relational health can be built on.
Commitment can sound like a big and daunting word. But, to put it simply, commitment is choosing to stay in and work on the relationship despite the flaws you see in your partner. Let's take a silly example: you don't like the way your partner chews their food, but instead of breaking up, you embrace it - that is commitment. On a more serious scale, maybe your partner has a troubled past, maybe they have a lot of baggage with their family, or maybe your partner cheats on you. Commitment means that instead of walking away, you accept and work through it. This does not mean you passively swallow all the annoying, frustrating, or betraying things your partner does; it means you recognize your partner as a flawed individual with flawed behaviors and choose to stay in the relationship regardless of how difficult or painful the process can be.
People often think relational compatibility means you listen to the same music, you like the same food, or you're passionate about the same topic. While those are important-and often people bond over similarities in the beginning stages of a relationship-it shouldn't be a deal-breaker if your partner doesn't share the exact same interests as you. These common interests can help jumpstart a relationship but they are not necessary in making a relationship work. Two very different people with different interests can still be in a fun and engaging relationship as long as they choose to commit to each other.
However, the compatibility referred here are the big, future-orientated goals: Do you and your partner both want to get married? Do you both want kids? How many kids? What role does each person play in the house? Do your views on finances align? If one person wants to get married but the other doesn't, you are not compatible. If the husband wants the wife to stay home and take care of the house, but the wife wants to work, they are not compatible. It is important to talk through these expectations before entering a relationship to see if you are compatible; it'll save you from the agony of needing to break up because you realized you're heading down two different paths.
It is no surprise that when it comes to relationships, communication is crucial. What do you need to communicate about?
Firstly, communicate your day-to-day routines and expectations. Honestly inform your partner where you're going, who you're seeing, and what you're doing. It may seem minute or even unnecessary but by communicating your schedule with them, you're showing them respect and inviting them to participate in your daily life.
Secondly, communicate your needs. If you're extra tired this week, ask your partner to pick up more chores. If you've been feeling lonely or left out, invite your partner to make time for intentional connection with you. Sometimes, we think not demanding or suppressing our needs is an act of selfless love when, in reality, we end up building resentment and bitterness towards our partner. Conversely, the needs of your partner also need to be taken into consideration. Set aside time at the end of each week or month to check in with your partner on how they've been doing or feeling in the relationship.
Listening is also a part of communicating! The point of communication is not merely so you can tell your partner what you're thinking, but also to take a step back and listen to what your partner is conveying.
There's a saying that goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." This means that the whole community around the child will help create a positive environment for him or her to grow up. The same can be said about a relationship. It takes a community's encouragement and counsel for a relationship to flourish. When we have a dispute with our parents, or we feel dissatisfied with our bosses, we often go and tell our friends. We are willing to ask for advice and input from others when it comes to those relationships, but we are sometimes hesitant to share about our romantic relationships.
Relationships are not meant to be a private, hush-hush thing. Proper guidance and mentorship are central to the growth of a relationship. Invite wiser and more experienced people to speak encouragement and wisdom into your relationship. Don't be afraid to share with others the struggles you're having with your partner, and allow others to enlighten you with their experiences and knowledge. This includes seeking professional help from a therapist when your relationship or marriage becomes tough and unmanageable. Relationships are tough, and there is no shame in needing extra help to move through the difficulties.
The 4 C's are designed to help assess areas of strength and growth in your relationship. If your relationship is struggling in one particular area, it does not mean the relationship is doomed to fail. Find ways to incorporate and build your relationship upon commitment, compatibility, communication and community, and see how the relationship changes and flourishes!
Photo by Văn Thắng: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-near-grass-field-1415131/
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