Relationships can be thought of as a complex recipe. There are certain ingredients that are essential to produce a delicious, high quality dish. When cooking or baking, it is important to follow directions and abide by the measurements that are set forth by the recipes. If you happen to have the wrong ingredients, missing ingredients, or the incorrect amount, you risk messing up the dish all together. Your dish will either taste a little off, or will be destroyed all together, rendering it inedible. Relationships are similar in the sense that they are comprised of a lot of ingredients and the ingredients used are very important. The wrong ingredients or the wrong mixture of them can result in a relationship that is unhealthy, unbalanced, or abusive. Individuals need to take care of their relationships and what they put into them to have healthy and long-lasting partnerships.
There are several ingredients that are necessary for a successful relationship:
- Communication-Open communication is essential to a healthy relationship. A lack of communication or miscommunication between couples can lead to a relationship’s downfall. Couples do not have the ability to read each other’s mind so it is important that each shares their thoughts and feelings. Communication allows couples to stay on the same page and to resolve conflict in productive and effective ways. Listening and truly hearing each other is important to both individuals feeling valued and heard.
- Trust-Trust is built into the foundation of a healthy relationship. Transparency, honesty, and openness are imperative to building and maintaining trust in a partnership. Trust is based on reliability and dependability and does not always come easily, especially if a person has been deceived or lied to previously. Trust is extremely fragile and if broken, can be very difficult to piece back together. Trust is about protecting each other’s hearts, being there when you say you will be, and keeping promises.
- Intimacy-Emotional and physical intimacies are necessary to a healthy relationship. Emotional intimacy pertains to a couple being tuned in and in sync with each other. It helps couples to feel safe and secure with each other and is built and nurtured through open communication. Physical intimacy in the form of hand holding, cuddling, and intercourse needs to be a top priority to keep the romance in a relationship.
- Working Together/Sharing Responsibility-Working together and sharing household and parenting responsibilities is key to a happy and successful relationship. Working together helps both parties feel as if they are equally sharing the heavy load. When responsibilities are inequitable and partners are not working together, one partner is always left feeling resentful of the other. Teamwork allows couples to build a stronger sense of connection and to overcome obstacles and challenges together.
- Respect-Having respect and consideration for each other is significant for a healthy relationship. Partners need to respect each other’s thoughts, opinions, dreams, and aspirations. People need to respect their partners for how they conduct themselves and present to the world. Couples do not always have to agree with each other’s decisions, but they do have to respect them.
- Friendship-Having a strong friendship is vital to a healthy relationship. Truly enjoying each other’s company, laughing, and having fun helps couples to build a strong partnership. Building love and romance upon a solid friendship makes for a long lasting relationship.
Recipes can sometimes be challenging and complex. The very best bakers and chefs are said to use their instincts and creativity when preparing a dish. Relationships are very much like that. They can be tricky, messy, and complicated. The essential ingredients need to be present and measured in the right amounts. Instincts and creativity are also important as no two relationships are ever exactly the same.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.