What makes a 'healthy and happy relationship?'

After delving into the unfortunate and ugly reality of relationships – from cheating, affairs, to the complicated post-infidelity recovery process – we think love, in all its purest glory – deserves to be rightfully recognized, too.

Today, we focus on a more positive, less jaded outlook on love and ask ourselves: "What makes a healthy and happy relationship?"

What for? Because even though toxic relationships may exist in our lives, we're here to tell you that you ain't got time for that and that you deserve better – both in love and in life.

Maybe you've just recently started dating, are currently in a long-term partnership, or are still searching for "The One" – regardless, we're here to guide you on what kind of "love" – as defined by a Lissy Ann A. Puno, relationship counselor and psychologist – genuinely makes for the kind of relationship good for one's heart and soul.

Because what's the harm in making sure?

Defining a "healthy and happy relationship"

Ultimately, a healthy relationship is built on true intimacy.

True intimacy isn't just about being physical or sexual in nature – rather, this kind of intimacy involves freely opening yourself up to another, unapologetically, unconditionally, and honestly, without fear of judgment.

“It depends on talking to each other about your joys and sorrows, the mundane and the profound, the pain and the pleasures, the likes and dislikes of life together,” Lissy Ann quotes Emily Brown, author of Patterns of Infidelity and Their Treatment.

Intimacy is also built on being completely transparent and honest with each other, in both good and dire circumstances. “It also means standing up to each other and confronting differences until they are resolved," Lissy Ann says.

In a nutshell, intimacy is sharing to another who you truly are, while also accepting the other for who he/she is. It is an important facet of any healthy relationship, enveloped in care, comfort, generosity, and love.

Love is good for you: its benefits

Instead of the stress, sadness, anxiety, and emotional turmoil an unhealthy relationship can bring to your life, a genuinely happy relationship brings about the complete opposite – a life of security, safety, and peace shared with another.

Lissy Ann also adds that a healthy relationship can benefit your overall well-being in other important ways:

  • Good for your physical health
  • Inspires one's creativity
  • Calmness due to feeling of safety and security
  • Increased productivity in all areas of life
  • Intellectual stimulation

The must-haves

According to Lissy Ann, there are three main factors that a healthy relationship must have:

Safety

Feeling physically, emotionally, socially, and psychologically safe and secure is very important. Ask yourself, "Can you be yourself totally with this person? Do you know in your heart that you will be accepted for it?"

Joyful aliveness

Lissy Ann describes "joyful aliveness" as being allowed to express one’s self in all dimensions – in thoughts, feelings, actions, without fear of judgment or holding back.

Relax joyfulness

When your overall feelings are positive and your general well-being is of happiness, satisfaction, and purpose, that is "relax joyfulness."

Aside from these three main factors, of course, a couple must never forget the ultimate trifecta of any happy relationship – time, effort, and commitment, equally given by both sides.

Are you already in one?

Lissy Ann advises partners to regularly check in on the status of one's relationship, ensuring that it maintains its ‘healthy, happy state’ majority of the time.

Here are some statements to reflect on to see if you and your partner are currently thriving in a healthy relationship:

“We genuinely like each other as friends.”

According to Lissy Ann, being best friends first means that as lovers, you are both already used to looking out for eachother, confiding in one another, sharing the same humor, and standing firm against life’s toils and troubles, hand-in-hand.

Being best friends also pays to an advantage during squabbles – usually, even the angriest of best friends will fight fair, make up quickly, and return to their benevolent state as soon as possible.

“We are loving towards each other in words and actions.”

As long as you constantly show one another that you respect them and care for them through small yet thoughtful, considerate, and loving acts, then all is, and will continue to be, very well.

Do little things for each other – whether it be a home errand, a let's-eat-out offer when the other is stressed, a coffee treat, or even simply just fetching them a glass of water at a restaurant – because it is in the small acts and consistent gestures that true love lies.

(This also means no emotional blackmail, no manipulative, controlling behaviors, no degrading language, and dramatic, bordering-on-violent fights that some may mistake for as "the passionate side of love".)

“We enjoy romance and passion.”

Surprises every once in a while help keep the "romance" alive, especially if they are special gifts you know is important to your partner – and no, they don't need to be expensive or flashy.

Keep your "dating life" alive, Lissy Ann also reminds couples, stressing the importance of setting private couple time regularly.

“We are also lovers.”

More than friends, you both are also lovers who make time for physical intimacy.

Try to find ways to "spice up" the time you have together, Lissy Ann says.

“We are supportive and encouraging.”

A home is supposed to be a haven of rest, refuge, comfort, security where one can both relax and recharge, and not a danger zone where you feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells.

Do you feel this way with your partner?

“We have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”

Because there is a "lightness" in each other’s company, you are able to spend time together in simple enjoyment. Time passes so effortlessly, that you find yourself not wanting the day to end, while also looking forward to the next.

“We are growing and changing.”

You are a couple, but you are still individuals, and a healthy relationship acknowledges that. Through your years, you’ve begun to see new, positive qualities developing in each other, supporting this growth, but also accepting the more ineffective ones in each other, not judging your partner for it, but helping them improve in spite.

“We are happy.”

It’s impossible for a couple to be happy 24/7 – arguments and LQ’s are inevitable in every relationship – but if you are genuinely happy together more often that not, and if the good outweighs the bad, there's no need to worry.

Relationships are hard work, that can't be denied, but Lissy Ann believes in the power of healthy, happy relationships – if relationships are challenging enough, why make it harder being with someone who isn't serving you well?

With genuine love always at the foundation of your actions and words, the constant effort of keeping things happy and healthy between you both, and the sincere desire of only wanting what's best for your partner, then congratulations – it seems like you're in it for the good, long, loving haul. – Rappler.com

Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.

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