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Happy relationships are built on hard work and commitment, but all relationships go through ups, downs, and everything in-betweens.

Denene Millner. Photo credit: Tim Redman for mater mea

Falling in love is a beautiful experience. But thanks to Hollywood, we may have some unrealistic expectations for relationships filled with stars, fireworks, and intense sexual connection. When it comes to dealing with the real-world complications of romantic relationships, healthy and happy ones don’t fall from the sky—they require effort and dedication.

To build and maintain a truly healthy relationship, you must know and choose some key ingredients. A regular date night or other common “spice up your relationship” tips will do nothing for your relationship, if these five things are missing.

You share your fears, joys, and dreams with each other.

A relationship without communication is as good as dead—relationships grow when partners are able to communicate their feelings, expectations, vulnerabilities, and dreams. This eliminates the almost impossible task and pressure of reading your partner’s mind or feelings. Communication also helps individuals in a relationship know each other better and align their expectations as each shares their needs, wants, and desires. Are you communicating your fears and your flaws? Are you able to communicate your feelings during an argument? Are you able to communicate your sexual needs? Communication is a key sign of a healthy relationship.

You respect each other.

Relationships take people from different backgrounds, personal quirks, and experiences and puts them together to form a team. Just as the players on a soccer team have different roles and strengths, the same is true for people in relationships. To grow a healthy relationship, you must acknowledge and respect your partner’s strengths and weaknesses. People tend to act out or shut down when they think they’re not being listened to or respected. When your partner opens up to you, do you make fun of their dreams and fears or do you acknowledge them and help them grow? Respect is a much needed ingredient in the recipe for a healthy and happy relationship, and leads to better communication.

You “Let It Go.”

You can’t underestimate the number of times you will have to forgive your partner, and the power and freedom that forgiveness gives. Forgiveness is not a one-time gift; choosing forgiveness indicates that you’re in the relationship for the long run in spite of your partner’s shortcomings or irritating habits. Not forgiving your partner can lead to bitterness and resentment, which will simmer for a while before boiling over in the most unexpected places. But remember: Forgiveness is not an excuse to stay in an unhealthy and unsafe relationship.

You’re getting it on.

Sex should never be the driving force behind any romantic relationship, but it is an essential component for most relationships. Never underestimate the power of physical intimacy with your partner; it can connect you in ways unlike any other, help reduce stress, and strengthen your chemistry.

You trust each other.

Without trust, none of the other signs can truly hold a relationship together. Trust enables you to communicate, respect, and forgive. Trusting your partner is also important to truly sharing and enjoying your physical connection. Do you and can you trust your mate? If you’re constantly looking behind your back or looking through your partner’s personal items, it might be time to ask yourself some hard questions. A lot can be said for the peace that comes with being with someone you can trust.

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AdeOla Fadumiye writes at the intersection of faith, feminism, and entrepreneurship, and also edits and evaluates multicultural and Christian fiction manuscripts. When she is not writing and editing, she is producing podcasts for her clients over at Crys & Tiana. You can read more of AdeOla’s writing on her website and by following her on Instagram.


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