When someone asks me for relationship advice or asks what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like, my first response is: communication. Always. But there is much more to communication than just listening, and if I’m being completely honest, there is so much more to a healthy relationship than just talking. There are six layers to the foundation that makes up a healthy relationship, and they are accountability, safety, honesty, support, cooperation, and trust.

1. Accountability 

As adults, we are supposed to hold ourselves accountable, but when it comes to relationships, we sometimes get dumb. We find ourselves getting too comfortable, reverting to childish ways. Those who have a healthy relationship know what it means to admit when you are wrong and take responsibility for those mistakes. Accepting responsibility for our behaviors, the way we act, and our values can avoid a ton of arguments and fights. Even if you don’t feel you are responsible for the fight, apologizing afterward can be a huge step towards a healthier relationship.

2. Safety

Feeling safe in a relationship is a huge part of having a healthy relationship. Not just feeling safe but knowing how to make your partner feel safe. You must recognize and refuse to use intimidating or manipulative behaviors. It is also important that you respect your partner’s physical personal space and allowing them that space when they need it. If a discussion is getting too heated, it is a smart choice to take a break and walk away for a bit, just to let everyone calm down. 

3. Honesty

While honesty may be third on this list, it isn’t any less important than the first two. Being honest and providing open and truthful communication is the largest and most sturdy foundation you can build in a healthy relationship. Even when it is hard to talk, even when the topic of discussion is uncomfortable, even when the truth hurts, it is important to be open and honest with your partner.

4. Support

Like honesty, support isn’t any less important than the other items on this list- it is an incredibly important base foundation. And it is one best established early on. Support one another in each other’s decisions, be understanding of your partner’s wants, needs, and fails. Offer your partner encouragement when they fail or when they take on a project they feel is too much. Offer a non-judgmental space where your partner can talk to you, and value their opinions when they offer you that non-judgmental space.

5. Cooperation 

This foundation is more difficult to establish than others. When you ask someone to do something, your brain is programmed to expect that it gets done, but some expectations can be unhealthy. Take the time to learn about each other and determine what you can and what you shouldn't expect of them. You must also be open to making decisions together, as a team, and be willing to compromise. This will help you reach a win-win resolution to any conflict you and your partner face.

6. Trust

Finally, there is trust. Trust is a strong foundation upon which to build your relationship. You must learn to accept your partner’s words and give them the benefit of the doubt. When you suspect your partner is doing something out of character or untrustworthy, talk to them about it. There is usually a simple explanation, and it's often not the story you've been telling yourself. And if you have the other foundations laid down, strongly and dependably, then they will be open with you when you confront them.

Final thoughts

Each of these foundations are important in healthy relationships. Think about it like a lasagna, there are different layers and if you take out one layer, the entire dish will be completely different, not as great. Accountability, safety, honesty, support, cooperation, and trust will set you and your partner up to succeed in a healthy relationship.

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