No matter how in love you are, obstacles and arguments are bound to happen in any relationship. Fortunately, there are certain positive traits that you and your partner can cultivate to overcome obstacles and challenges while building a trusting, respectful relationship.
We reached out to Fran Walfish, PsyD, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star on Sex Box (WE TV) to learn the most helpful traits to have in a relationship. She's worked with enough couples to know what truly keeps relationships happy and healthy. Refer to these traits when you need an extra hand to keep your relationship strong.
Meet the Expert
Fran Walfish, Psy.D., is a Beverly Hills-based family and relationship psychotherapist, and author of The Self-Aware Parent. Walfish has appeared regularly as an expert child psychologist on The Doctors on CBS, and co-star on Sex Box (WE TV).
Be honest. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, especially if you expect it to be met with anger. Be brave! Honesty in a relationship is extremely important because it's what makes a person feel safe. Even if you think the truth will be hard for your partner to hear, they'll appreciate it in the long run.
Be flexible. Rigidity is a sign of trouble. Try to be flexible. You may think your idea is best, but staying open to your partner’s opinions and ideas is an important ingredient in successful communication.<br/>Use humor. When addressing your relationship problems, avoid being businesslike. Instead, use humor! Laughing can diffuse the intensity of an argument, lighten up the moment, and put things in perspective.
Let go of control. Even when your relationship is not on the line, there is no use trying to control others. It will leave you exhausted and deplete your capacity to enjoy your time with your friend or partner. Once you let go, you will find that everything, for the most part, falls into place; all that you need to do is enjoy yourself.
Be optimistic. View your partner's intentions as good unless they demonstrate otherwise. If you don't, you risk creating undue distrust in the relationship.
Be supportive. Build self-esteem by using words that support and motivate with empathic attunement. If you have a complaint or criticism, present it like an Oreo cookie: couched between two positive statements. You don’t always have to agree with your partner, but everyone wants to be heard.
Be open. Express your feelings in the moment. Do not allow anger and disappointment to build up inside you. Say what you feel clearly and respectfully.
Take time for yourself. Be sure to set aside private time for yourself each day. Try for short, undivided, and positive attention to refresh and rejuvenate your spirit so you can be at your best for your partner.
Let differences work for you. No two people in the world are just alike, but great couples learn to build upon those differences. They use each other’s strengths and let each other minimize their weaknesses.
Extend grace for minor annoyances. People do stuff that gets on our nerves at times. That’s true of all of us—even, or especially, with the people that we love the most. Great couples have learned not to let those little things distract from the major things like love and commitment. This may call for you to be aware of your own issues. Be accountable and own up to your part of the problem.
Serve each other. There are no 50-50 splits of responsibility in a great relationship. Great couples learn to sacrificially serve one another. In the best relationships, it would be difficult to judge who serves the other more. Neither person should complain when it’s their turn to be the giver.
Prioritize their time. Life is busy for all of us, but great couples make time for each other. They find things to do that they both enjoy, and they say no to things that would keep them from having adequate time together.
Keep no secrets. There are no hidden issues among great couples. They are vulnerable with each other. Both partners open themselves up to the other person completely.
Publicly support each other. Great couples are supportive of each other in public; they don’t tear each other down. It's best to handle private issues in private.
Keep no record of wrongs. Forgiveness is monumentally important in a relationship. There should not be any lingering issues between you and your partner, or else trust deteriorates. If you've forgiven your partner for wrongdoing, then let it go for good.
Do not compare your partner to others. Measure your companion by their own standards. You shouldn't have to strive for perfection for your relationship to be valid, so you shouldn't force your partner to live by those standards either.