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Building Healthy Relationships

Couples consistently believe that their relationships can be healthier. As a professional counselor who has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, this desire for healthy relationships is exciting because these couples have a growth mindset. However, couples often get stuck when coming up with an action plan for being healthy.

Healthy Relationship Plan

We have created a few YouTube videos to help couples work on building intimacy in their relationship. This first video discusses how to build intimacy in your relationship using Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love.

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise as they focus on healthy relationships.
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on

Theory of Love

Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love identifies three key components of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Building intimacy in a relationship involves enhancing emotional closeness, understanding, and connection. Here are five ways a couple can build intimacy based on Sternberg’s theory:

Open and Honest Communication: Regularly share thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other. Create a safe space where both partners feel comfortable expressing their emotions and vulnerabilities. Active listening and empathetic responses can deepen emotional understanding and trust.

Quality Time Together: Spend meaningful time together engaging in activities that both partners enjoy. This could include date nights, hobbies, or simply spending quiet moments together. Prioritizing quality time helps strengthen the bond and creates shared memories.

Expressing Affection and Appreciation: Show physical and verbal affection regularly. Small gestures like hugs, kisses, and holding hands can enhance physical closeness. Additionally, expressing appreciation and gratitude for each other fosters a positive and supportive environment.

Shared Goals and Dreams: Discuss and plan for the future together. Sharing aspirations, setting mutual goals, and working towards them as a team can create a sense of partnership and shared purpose. This helps build a deeper emotional connection and a feeling of unity.

Emotional Support and Empathy: Be there for each other during both good and challenging times. Offering emotional support, understanding, and empathy strengthens the bond and trust between partners. Knowing that they can rely on each other builds a solid foundation of intimacy.

What is an Unhealthy Relationship?

Since we are discussing healthy relationships, here are five aspects of an unhealthy relationship. If you happen to have a few of these signs, we are here to help.

  1. Lack of communication: When communication breaks down or becomes hostile, it can indicate underlying issues. We do like to say that “lack of communication” is very powerful communication about the need to work on your relationship.
  2. Control and manipulation: If one partner tries to control the other’s actions, thoughts, or social interactions, it’s a red flag for needing to seek support.
  3. Lack of trust: Trust is essential in a healthy relationship. If there’s persistent suspicion or jealousy, it can be damaging to the foundation of your relationship.
  4. Constant criticism: Constantly criticizing or belittling each other can erode self-esteem and create a toxic environment. In Dr Gottman’s book, 7 Principles That Make Marriage Work, he discusses the impact of criticism in a relationship. He calls “criticism” one of the 4-horseman of the Apocalypse of Marriage which is a major impact of potentially healthy relationships.
  5. Emotional or physical abuse: Any form of abuse, whether it’s emotional, verbal, or physical, is a clear indication of an unhealthy relationship and should not be tolerated. Please call 988 if you need support for domestic violence.

Further Discussion of Sternberg’s Theory

If you are interested in learning more about Sternberg’s Theory, we have another video giving a higher level view of this theory.

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