People in healthy relationships seem to abide by a handful of core beliefs. Here’s what they wish we knew:

Reject the fairy tale. The belief that “love is all you need” is romantic, but not very realistic. In healthy relationships, couples reject the idea that grand gestures mean true love; they know that love only grows when you tend to it daily. These couples know that fairy tales and romantic comedies profit off of “happily ever after.” While it’s normal to buy into these ideas from time to time, individuals in healthy relationships try to avoid comparisons and focus on the unique aspects of their partnership.

Respect your relationship. When you respect your partner, you are unlikely to put your relationship in jeopardy. Emotional affairs, financial infidelity, and physical betrayals create distrust in a relationship. People in healthy relationships understand that their relationship is like Gollum’s Ring – precious. It needs to be protected and cherished. While healthy couples may not celebrate their relationship every second of the day, they always work hard to appreciate one another and prioritize their relationship.

Honor your spouse’s feelings. In healthy relationships, individuals are able to identify how they feel and share this with their partner. They are also able to hold space for their partners’ feelings. This is a difficult task, especially when you don’t understand why your partner feels a particular way. Couples in healthy relationships know that you don’t have to agree with your partner’s point of view to acknowledge and empathize with their feelings.

Make peace with difference. It’s okay for partners to have different personalities and interests. Though it’s not easy, healthy couples work really hard to accept their spouse for who they are –  not who they want them to be. They know that it is absolutely exhausting to spend time and energy wishing their partner were someone else. Individuals in healthy relationships try to focus on what’s working in their relationship and acknowledge their partner’s contribution to the relationship.

Discover the upside of arguing. Many of us try to avoid arguments. We worry that arguing can hurt our relationship and believe that nothing good comes out of a fight. Healthy couples know that respectful conflict and constructive problem solving are the foundation of a strong relationship. They understand and accept that conflict is par for the course in long-term relationships, and while they don’t look forward to it, they can tolerate the difficult feelings that come up during arguments, and they value the insights they obtain from disagreements.

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