I’m not a guy who pays much attention to the lives of the Hollywood elite, but a story involving Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt caught my attention and is worth noting. However, it’s not the radical surgery that Jolie underwent to minimize her high cancer risk that I want to address today. The difficulty and bravery involved in making that incredibly tough and life-altering decision is self-evident. What caught my attention was the strong relationship that I saw between her and Pitt during this very challenging time. Most everyone dreams about having a wonderful relationship with that special someone to share your life journey with – in good times and in bad. It’s built into our programming by Mother Nature herself, and it provides a strong physical and psychological drive that motivates us in numerous ways throughout our lives. As a result, there are volumes written about how to have and maintain a healthy and happy relationship. Because it’s such an integral part of the human experience, we’re surrounded by this topic daily. Music, literature and movies find endless inspiration in this human drama and, as a result, are always trying to tap into our psyches with content that moves us. Jolie and Pitt appear to be the perfect example of what a great relationship should look like during the tough times. After all, it’s easy to be a team during the good times. It’s when life becomes difficult and your bond is truly tested that the true value of a healthy relationship shows its loving face.
This recent news story got me thinking about what the ingredients are that make up a great relationship. Even though there are many, what follows are 5 of what I believe are key building blocks to creating a happy and healthy relationship:
1. Time – Your time is a precious gift to give someone. Healthy relationships demand that, as a couple, you do things together that are fun, create memories and increase your bond. This is called quality time and it’s an essential ingredient in the happy and healthy relationship formula.
2. Communication – Communication is a form of intimacy that comes in two distinct and powerful forms: verbal and non-verbal. By communicating non-verbally, I don’t mean only sexual intimacy. Holding hands, a loving caress or supportive and silent arm around the shoulder are also strong forms of showing non-verbal and physical intimacy. By verbal intimacy, I’m referring primarily to those three little words that mean so much to all of us: I love you. Even when your partner knows that you love them through your physical actions, there’s no substitute for hearing loving words sincerely directed at you.
3. Respect – Healthy relationships demand respect for your partner. You show this admiration to your partner by supporting them, being honest with them, accepting their opinions, letting them know they’re needed and by doing your best to make them happy.
4. Trust – One of the most basic elements of a healthy relationship is trust. You must be able to trust your partner with your feelings, dreams and passions, as well as your insecurities. Your partner must also trust that you have their back and will support them in times of need and that their hopes and dreams are safe with you.
5. Forgiveness – Because we’re all human, you and your partner will inevitably do things that upset or hurt the other. In almost all cases, these offenses are forgivable and actually provide opportunities to grow closer. Learning how to forgive your partner for their honest mistakes and saying I’m sorry when you slip-up creates a safe margin for error in your most prized relationship. Creating a happy and healthy relationship is really relatively simple. It calls for common sense, sensitivity, caring, understanding and acceptance, topped off with a generous dose of consistent love and affection.