What makes for a healthy relationship?

Vector illustration of two bricks lego pieces running. Love concept.

Here we have it; the answer to all your relationship dynamic questions…just joking, I would be a billionaire if I had that to market! What I am sharing though, are some of the considerations in this area that we either worry about, or don’t pay enough attention to when planning for Bold Age®. And maybe even before that if we are honest with ourselves…so take five minutes to have a read.

I focus on this area in the Bold Age® coaching programmes, because it has such an inordinate impact on happiness. A perfectly happy pre-retirement marriage can be unsettled or even turned upside down by a lack of communication in the planning stages for Bold Age®. 91% of people surveyed by Relate in 2013 said that their relationship is very important to their happiness in retirement.

As The Dalai Lama says, the connection with others gives us greater strength which is definitely helpful when embarking upon a major life transition. This is why the unique Bold Age® diagnostic tool I use with clients ascertains the degree to which they derive satisfaction, connectedness, love and a sense of wellbeing from their primary relationship, be that husband, wife, partner, close friend or confidante.

Dr. Richard P. Johnson, a nationally recognised spokesperson in the field of retirement in the USA, describes the characteristics or conditions of a healthy relationship as: –

  1. Mutuality: each partner believes that they share a common purpose and each ones’ needs are valued equally. A relationship based on true interdependence as opposed to dependence, where one partner may become submissive, or mutual independence, where couples grow apart. The opposite of mutuality is self-centredness.
  1. Respect: each partner sees the uniqueness of each other, which is then honoured and cherished. Holding up and valuing the differences that originally brought the relationship together, not just tolerating unwanted difference. The opposite of respect is resentment.
  1. Communication: each partner uses the language of care and compassion, spending quality time together. As we know the art of good communication includes:
  • Active or deep listening, giving focused attention to one another
  • Attending to the feelings that are behind your partner’s words to truly understand the full meaning
  • Valuing both the message and the message giver
  • Being able to freely express feelings and have them accepted safely
  • Giving constructive feedback with positive intent to further improve the relationship

Easy to say, harder to do, right?! The opposite of communication is criticism.

  1. Intimacy: a strong and positive emotional bond which creates devotion, attachment and affection. Intimacy means that each partner can walk in the other’s shoes, can deal in feelings; which of course are the movers of drama in any relationship. The opposite of intimacy is emotional estrangement.
  1. Trust: each partner can rely on each other without question, which requires a genuine acceptance of each other. With acceptance comes a graciousness of heart that allows our own inner beauty to shine and a recognition of others’ goodness. The opposite of trust is doubt.
  2. Commitment: each partner exercises personal perseverance, patience and stamina. This is why a shared purpose is crucial, to create an anchor for our persistence and staying power to stick to. This can often be the bringing up pf children, so once they have flown the nest where do you find this? Commitment means proceeding where others may have lost hope, having stamina, backbone and courage. The opposite of commitment is indifference.

All of this takes time, effort and consideration at any stage of life; it has certainly given me a nudge in some areas! So why wait to reach Bold Age®? If there are areas within this that have provoked something for you as they have me, start now!




Leave a Reply