I met a couple that has been married for 50+ years. As I do with almost all couples that I meet that have made their relationship stand the test of time, I asked them, “What’s the secret?”
They looked at each other and smiled. “Respect” said the woman. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” said the man. “If you can do those two things,” said the woman, “Your relationship will outlive most”.
We live in an era where we are encouraged to have relationships, yet we aren’t encouraged to work hard at them. With the plethora of online dating sites, movies and television shows that chronicle divorce, and general message that ‘if you don’t like them, just bail’—where is a person to turn? Not every relationship is sustainable—any form of abuse is not acceptable and the situation should be ended. However, going through the muck of a non-abusive relationship is part of being in a relationship.
Everyone carries with them their own set of baggage. Our fears and insecurities. Throw in the stresses of life and you can easily form a recipe for disaster. Being the healthiest person that you can be and choosing the healthiest partner for yourself is key to success.
What should you look for in a partner? Here are the 6 non-negotiables that should always be in place no matter what…
1. Your partner should be your biggest fan.
Choose someone that encourages your dreams and supports your vision for your life. So you finally want to start that home daycare? Maybe write a book? How about open up that bakery or go back to school and get your degree? Your partner should be encouraging of you every step of the way. If you have the means to carry out your dream, it’s within reason, and it’s a healthy move for you—your partner should be happy because you are happy. Your partner may like you, but do they truly believe in you and cheer you on?
2. Your partner should be respectful.
Just like the wise woman in the 50 year marriage said, respect is key. Respect manifests itself in so many ways but above all, your partner should revere you enough so that you know that you are important to them and you make valuable contributions to their life.
Let’s bring this point to life: you go to work where you are well-liked and people come to you for problem solving assistance. Your boss tells you all the time that your work ethic is exemplary and that it sets you apart from others. When you go home however, your significant other tells you that you’re lazy because you didn’t make the bed. Then there is criticism about the meal you just prepared. What a juxtaposition of two worlds that don’t seem to match. Your partner should admire and appreciate you no matter your lousy cooking or lack of bed-making. Respect looks past those trivial shortcomings and recognizes who you are on the inside.
“Life is too short to waste your time on people
who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you.”
― Roy T. Bennett,
3. Your partner should be who they say that they are.
The truth always comes out! Typically the average person can only be “on their best behavior” for 3-6 months. Sometimes the time frame is shorter, sometimes longer. If your partner tells you one thing about themselves and then does another, pay attention.
“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”
― Maya Angelou
4. Your partner should be honest (and faithful).
The truthfulness factor is a no-brainer but I’ve been surprised by how much people will turn their heads when it comes to this one! Telling the truth can be difficult when it comes to certain subjects. However, truth-telling is essential in a relationship. How can you have a healthy relationship based on respect when your partner is unable to be honest with you? Relationships only become more difficult (and rewarding!) as time passes, but if the lack of honesty is there in the beginning, this is a major red flag.
“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”
5. Your partner should celebrate who you are as a person.
Out of all the people in the world, you and your partner chose each other. This means something! Your partner should not have a hidden agenda of desiring to change you. Your uniqueness should be celebrated and held close to your other half’s heart. You should feel completely at ease with the other person and able to not only fully expose the real you—but be celebrated for it!
6. Your partner should unknowingly challenge you to be a better person.
Maybe your partner has a few of the positive characteristics that you need to improve upon. Maybe they are more generous, more patient, more kind. Choose someone that causes you to want to be better, not someone that dumbs you down or causes you to do things that you know you shouldn’t.
Empower yourself and realize your worth.
If your ability to choose a healthy partner has been skewed in the past, then actively look for these positive qualities in your next significant other. Just like anything in life, some people are more adept at choosing a mate. Some just need more practice. Never accept less than what you deserve; by doing so, your self-worth will diminish over time. And no one deserves to allow a person in their lives that would diminish your worth.
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process
of loving someone too much,
and forgetting that you are special too.”
Empowering you to be the best version of yourself today and everyday,