Recently, a brochure caught my eye: “9 Signs of a Healthy Relationship,” written by Carol Rawleigh and published by Journeyworks. The words “communication” and “respect” were printed above the headline. I speak of the importance of both these words in my book, Momentous Living; and thus, I couldn’t help but pick up the brochure and read it. It was so well done that I thought I’d share it for contemplation or perhaps conversation with a teen or young adult in your life.
Number One: You can be yourself!
You can express yourself honestly. You can be different from one another and enjoy those differences. Your partner appreciates you for who you are. You are glad to have your partner’s support, but don’t need approval.
Number Two: You feel free to…
Spend time apart, enjoy other friends, be with your family, stay true to your own values, speak your honest opinion, keep up with the activities and interests that are important to you.
Number Three: Your partner hears what you say.
Your partner shows interest in you by taking the time to listen. Your partner looks at you when you talk and lets you finish. Your partner accepts your feelings, ideas and opinions as your own. When one of you is upset, you feel safe enough to talk things out in a respectful manner.
Number Four: You can agree to disagree. (I would add, on things that are not of utmost importance. In my opinion, things such as the wellness of self or others should not be jeopardized by agreeing to disagree.)
You can each give a little to come to an agreement or take turns making decisions. If you have a disagreement, you talk it out and don’t let anger build up.
Number Five: Your partner respects your boundaries.
You can say: “I can’t be with you every minute.” “Don’t tease me in that way.” “I don’t want to have sex.” “I can’t make a decision right now. I need time to think.” With your partner, you feel connected not controlled.
Number Six: You are honest with each other.
You build trust by being honest and kind, even if the truth is disappointing. For example: “I forgot. You’re right to be upset. I’m sorry.” Or, “I like you but I’m not sure how serious I want to be. Let’s take our time and see how things work out.” Your partner is responsible for his or her own behavior and doesn’t blame others.
Number Seven: You have fun together.
You can relax, laugh and enjoy every day simple things together. For example, you enjoy a walk to a park or a cookout with family. Being quiet together is ok too. You don’t feel you have to talk or be busy every minute.
Number Eight: Your partner uses language that lifts you up.
Words that: Encourage: “I believe you can do it!” Notice: “I like how you are patient with your grandmother.” Respect: “I’ll put on these earphones so you can read.” Appreciate: “Thank you for helping out.” Invite: “Would you like to go to the festival tomorrow?” Point out the positive: “You have a great smile!”
Number Nine: You take your time to get to know each other.
You spend time together talking about what each of you values and cares about. You talk about where you think your relationship might go and how it might be different in a month or year. You accept that we all grow and change–and relationships do to.