Dear Karen Kaye,
I read your column on a regular basis and would like to know, in your opinion, what is a good relationship?
In observing couples and individuals for 37 years, I would say that a good relationship is made up of two individuals who know themselves and what they want. These individuals care enough about themselves and their relationship to communicate about both the good and the bad. This occurs through a daily/weekly commitment. They know when it is time to negotiate, and when to take a stand. Therefore, they won’t lose themselves in the “roles” of who they were taught to be (by society and their parents) in relationships.
When I refer to “knowing themselves,” I mean this individual has taken a non-biased look (hopefully with a professional) at their own strengths and weaknesses. They can accept themselves and their mate’s faults, and are willing to work on themselves and the relationship at any time. We find out a lot about ourselves through the experience of a relationship. When I speak of a person who “knows what they want,” I am referring to a person who doesn’t expect their mate to “mind-read” them, because they know it is their responsibility to honestly communicate their “wants.” Conversely, this person would not allow their mate to second-guess their decisions, choices, and most importantly their feelings. A relationship that lacks the above-mentioned traits becomes a power struggle, one in which no one wins. An example of this, is a person who claims to know themselves and what they want but is unwilling to share that part of themselves with their mate.
In conclusion, all that works in a good relationship is a constant, steady flow of real, honest communication by an individual who knows their “self” and their “self-worth.” And if in that flow, conflict arises, then a conflict resolution plan needs to be worked out and put into place. This all may sound to some people as a very “tall order.” In reality, though, these guidelines are the basics for the foundation of a good relationship. Once the foundation is laid, you and your relationship will flourish for many years to come.
Karen Kaye, LMHC