Carrie and Big, Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam, Laura and Urkel—these TV couples made being in a long-term relationship look easy. They had their challenges. They had to overcome so much to be together, but once they finally found one another, their relational problems seemed to be solved. If only real-life relationships were so easy, but couples know differently. Being in a long-term, committed relationship is not easy. Partners often feel annoyed, frustrated, or angry with one another. Even the healthiest couples fight. When difficult emotions and hard times arise, partners may wonder if it is time to break off the relationship. Some decide to part ways, but others work through the challenge and grow closer in the process. No one can make that decision except those within the relationship, but more and more, couples are reach out for help. They are going to couples therapy.
There is no magic formula for happy, healthy relationships. Being in a couple takes work, but partners do not have to shoulder the load alone. Couples therapists can often help them learn how to improve their relationship.
“I have my own high standards for what I want in a partner and how I want to be treated. I bring a lot to the table. I’m not talking about material things but what I have to offer as a person – love and loyalty and all the things that make a good relationship.” —Jennifer Lopez
The counselors at Thriveworks San Francisco have worked with many couples who are struggling. We have helped many partners work toward healthier ways of relating and establishing a happier relationship—whatever form they choose for it to take.
Characteristics of Happy Relationships
TV shows and movies are filled with models of unrealistic romantic relationships. The way that couples relate to each other on-screen is often sweet but it is rarely realistic. Everyday couples can never live up to those standards, and if they tried, they would exhaust themselves. If Hollywood does not give a picture of healthy couples, what do happy couples look like?
1) They do not keep secrets, but instead they are fully known and accepted.
When couples trust each other, they do not have to hide. Partners do not run from failure, weakness, struggle. They do not minimize or downplay their own flaws. Instead, each partner is fully known and accepted as they are. No one is perfect. Everyone is growing. When each partner accepts responsibility for their own growth and refuses to hide, the other partner is free to freely offer love and acceptance. In other words, happy couples are vulnerable, and that vulnerability leads to intimacy and connection.
2) They maintain their individuality.
Each partner is a unique individual who has their own needs, feelings, thoughts, responsibilities, and more. Healthy couples are a partnership between healthy individuals. Partners make room for each other’s uniqueness. Each partner will have their own dreams, goals, motivations, and more. That is not only ok—it is healthy.
3) They handle disagreements with respect.
If each partner within a couple is a unique individual, then it is inevitable that partners will disagree. Happy couples expect differences to surface, and they handle these with respect. When partners appreciate and honor each other’s uniqueness, a Democrat and a Republican can be happy as a couple, as can a Protestant and a Catholic or a Cleveland Cavaliers fan and a Golden State Warriors fan.
4) They make time together a priority.
Life gets busy. Chaos seems to rule, but the truth is that people have control over how they spend their time. Happy couples prioritize their time together. They may have their own hobbies and friends and careers, but at some point, partners come back together. Happy couples may even pass on certain opportunities or engagements to spend time with their partner. Connection takes time, and it communicates value when couples make time for each other.
5) They cheer each other on toward their goals.
Whether it is privately or publicly, healthy partners support each other. They do not allow family members or friends to speak ill of their partner or put them down. Instead, happy couples are one another’s biggest ally and cheerleader. They help each other reach goals, and they look out for each other’s best interest.
6) They make sacrifices.
Give and take is a part of every relationship, and happy partners are willing to make sacrifices. This is not a 50-50 split of effort, but each partner will give and each partner will receive at some point within a happy couple. Healthy partners do not keep track of the score.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks San Francisco for Couples Therapy
Did you notice any ways that you and your partner could improve your relationship as you read through the characteristics of healthy couples? If you did, you are not alone. No relationship is perfect. Every partner can improve. No one has to work through relational challenges alone. The counselors at Thriveworks San Francisco have worked with many couples, teaching them the relational and conflict resolution skills they need to have a healthier relationship—whether they continue as life partners or not. If you and your partner are ready to start couples therapy, our professionals are ready to help. When you call Thriveworks San Francisco, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. You may be meeting with your counselor the following day. We also accept many forms of insurance. Call today.