The Pillars of a Strong Relationship

We all have a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of our experiences. This negativity bias also affects our romantic relationships, causing us to overlook the positive aspects and dwell on the problems. As Daniel Kahneman explains in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” we tend to only see what’s right in front of us and ignore what’s not currently present. This can give us a distorted view of our relationships, making us believe that the problems are all there is.

In fact, our negativity bias is so strong that we may even create problems that don’t actually exist. A study published in Science suggests that when our relationship lacks major issues, we are more likely to magnify small problems and perceive them as more significant.

However, when we focus on the wrong things, we fail to appreciate what’s going right in our relationships. It is crucial to reflect on our partner’s positive qualities and the positive aspects of our connection. So, let’s explore the pillars of a healthy relationship that can help shift our perspective.

Acknowledge the Stability and Comfort

Start by paying more attention to the stable, consistent, and comfortable facets of your relationship. These are the peaceful and drama-free elements that we often take for granted but serve as sources of strength. Take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge them.

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The Key Pillars of Healthy Relationships

Research suggests that the following 10 pillars are essential for a satisfying and lasting bond:

1. Authentic Acceptance

In a healthy relationship, you and your partner accept each other for who you truly are. There is no need to change one another. The ability to be your authentic selves without fear of judgment leads to higher relationship satisfaction.

2. Friendship and Emotional Support

A strong romantic relationship often blossoms from a deep friendship. Emphasizing friendship leads to a more committed and fulfilling partnership. It involves emotional support, intimacy, affection, and maintaining a strong bond.

3. Emotional Intimacy and Trust

Being emotionally close to your partner can be challenging, but in a healthy relationship, you have learned to be comfortable sharing your feelings and relying on each other. Trust has been established, and emotional walls have been dismantled, resulting in increased stability.

4. Shared Similarities

While differences may stand out, healthy relationships are rooted in shared similarities. Beyond the few contrasting aspects, couples often find that they have many things in common. These commonalities strengthen the bond, allowing for a deeper connection.

5. A Sense of Togetherness

Words matter in a relationship. When you refer to yourselves as “we,” “us,” and “our,” it shows a strong sense of shared identity and cognitive closeness. This interconnectedness contributes to higher satisfaction and commitment.

6. Mutual Personal Growth

In a healthy relationship, partners support each other’s personal growth and self-improvement. By seeking new experiences together, you both enhance yourselves and your relationship. Growing as individuals can lead to a stronger bond.

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7. Shared Power and Decision Making

In successful relationships, decision making, power, and influence are shared between partners. When both individuals have equal say and feel the division of labor is fair, the relationship becomes stronger and more satisfying.

8. Fundamental Goodness

A reliable, warm, kind, fair, trustworthy, and intelligent partner forms the foundation of a resilient relationship. Agreeable and emotionally stable personalities contribute to higher relationship satisfaction.

9. Mutual Trust and Reliability

To rely on your partner, trust must be present. Trust is built over time as partners consistently demonstrate their loyalty and consideration. Greater trust leads to stronger commitment, creating a positive cycle of reliability.

10. Absence of Serious Issues

Appreciate the absence of serious problems in your relationship. Remember that issues like disrespect, cheating, jealousy, and abuse can be detrimental. Recognize the light that comes from not having to deal with these destructive elements.

By consciously noticing and cultivating these foundational aspects, you can strengthen your relationship. Take the time to savor and appreciate everything that works in your partnership. Remember, there is much to be valued when you know what to look for.

It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list. Your relationship may have additional strengths not covered here. The key takeaway is to focus on what is going well and avoid obsessing over what’s broken.

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires mutual respect, love, and friendship between equals. Emphasize the positives, but don’t use them to justify staying in a bad relationship. Recognize that your relationship isn’t perfect, but appreciate how much is already going well. By doing so, you may discover that your relationship is stronger than you think.

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For more tips and resources on building strong relationships, explore Six Minute Dates.