Much has been written that we are hard wired for dependency – the type of dependency in intimate relationships that is natural, healthy, and mutually beneficial. However, too much dependency can create codependency.
Co-dependency on another fosters behaviors that can be dysfunctional, unhealthy, and destructive. It puts pressure another person to be ‘their everything’ to fulfill their needs and increase their self-esteem. No one is capable of that. Yet, having a relationship with too independence and living parallel lives while under the same roof isn’t the answer either. These couples may not spend all that much time together. They are busy doing their own thing, and don’t turn towards each other in times of stress. They have become successful at the ‘business’ of marriage. So, creating the balance between the two is essential to creating a healthy relationship.
When creating a healthy relationship, keep in mind that it should be one that is interdependent – not dependent or independent. This provides the foundation and the strength needed for a healthy relationship to evolve. For this to develop, key traits should be present.
1. They have autonomy.
Simply put – they function independently. They are their own person within the couple. They engage in activities outside of the relationship they enjoy – spending time with friends, hobbies, volunteering – whatever it might be that brings them happiness without worrying how it will affect their relationship. This gives each person time away from one another, to miss one another, have new things to talk about, while concurrently enhancing their own self identity and cultivating their own interests. Each person encourages and supports their partner’s interests and don’t feel threatened by them.
2. They manage their own sh*t.
They don’t rely on the other person to take care of them (in a dependent kind of way), expect them to manage their feelings (think impossible and a black hole) or believe that their spouse or partner’s responsibility. They take responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts, and actions and know they are responsible for the relationship. They take care of themselves but also know when they need a help, support, guidance, direction. They are able to turn towards their partner knowing they will receive this in return. They make a 100% contribution to the relationship.
3. They encourage the best version of each other.
Each person strives to be their best version and their partner supports, applauds, and delights in their successes. They don’t begrudge them when are successful or are jealous. They are truly happy for their partner and remain committed.
4. They respect their partner’s alone time.
Each person respects the other’s desire to spend time alone (and without friends) doing what they need – if this helps them to decompress, reboot, and feel centered again. Their sense of independence is not a threat to the relationship. They both recognize the need of that in each other. They value the importance of separateness. They view their similarities and their differences as strengths.
5. They have healthy self-esteem.
Their self-esteem is not dependent on how their partner feels about them. They are able to independently esteem themselves, understanding that sometimes it will ebb and flow, but they still feel good about themselves and know they are the only person that can do this for them.
6. They create ‘space’.
Couples recognize that the greatest gift they give to one another is the space that exists between them. They have learned that this is where their relationship grows. They have cultivated and nurtured this aspect of their relationship. They don’t feel threatened or insecure when they are not together. They both have become comfortable with this space, which allows them both quiet and individual time, for self-reflection and growth. They recognize the space provides an opportunity to continue to build and thrive as a couple. Their relationship comprises time together and time apart.
These are some of the things that couples do to encourage a healthy, balanced, and integrated relationship. They don’t sacrifice self for another, but they do things that help their relationship grow and thrive.
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