The Ideal Relationship Has These Ten Things

Posted by Hayley Hoffman, MA, LPC on June 18, 2024 at 2:23 PM
Hayley Hoffman, MA, LPC
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the ideal relationship has these ten things

Have you noticed the number of articles focusing on what's wrong with relationships and how to look out for relationship red flags? A Google search can pull up tons of lists of what NOT to do in a relationship and what to look out for as a danger.

But why focus on what you DON'T want? Why not focus on what you DO want? Focus on the positive vs. the negative. Focus on asking for what you want and look for the good things.

Start with "What I want in a relationship is.." Think about some of the following:

  • What specifically do I long for in my relationship?
  • What behaviors invite me to be present and engaged in our relationship?
  • Why do I prioritize certain behaviors over others?

To be clear, I'm not talking about perfection, a nirvana-centric connection that never falters. I'm talking about a relationship that inspires each of us to be our better selves, a relationship filled with love and positive energy. In this type of relationship we co-create a sacred space in which we feel safe, capable of being vulnerable, and open to trying things in new ways. I'm talking about a relationship in which there is more curiosity, more flexibility, and more at ease and peace.

The 10 Ingredients In My Ideal Relationship:

10 ingredients in my ideal relationship

We Look For Ways to Resolve Differences

We quickly and easily resolve differences, taking turns to hear each other and validating when we have different opinions. There is trust that being understood and valued for my thoughts and feelings is more important than getting what I want.

Couples researcher John Gottman says that 69% of our differences are unresolvable. This is the good news! Because it's the differences that help us differentiate from one another. Differences are not the same as right and wrong. My way is mine, and yours is yours. We can celebrate our differences. When we differ, we can look for ways to connect.

We Express Our Attraction to Each Other

For example, my partner communicates his attraction to me in a million ways. He tells me directly that he wants me and finds me desirable. He initiates tender touch, sweet, humorous innuendos, and sexy references. He looks at me with desire—you know that look.

My partner welcomes me into his arms when I initiate contact. He tells me I'm beautiful and that I have the softest skin. He plays with my hair and happily rubs my feet. He appreciates my availability to him. He validates my desires.

We Tell Each Other What We Want and How We Feel

Open, honest, and transparent communication may not always happen exactly when and how you want it. However, it's essential to be clear on what you want and feel in order to connect more deeply. When you ask for what you want, it says to your partner that you know yourself and are clear on your needs. Asking goes a long way toward building a strong base of knowing each other.

The same is true for feelings. When we express, rather than discharge, our anger, disappointment, sadness, loneliness, elation, ecstasy, or satisfaction, we invite attunement and deep connection. Humans are better able to understand emotions that are clearly articulated over those that are dumped onto each other.

sharing the workload with your partner

We Share The Workload

I often hear complaints about the unequal burden of household tasks falling on one person in the relationship. While I wholeheartedly support the idea that household tasks should be shared, some things are easier to share.

My partner is an ardent gardener who happily mows the lawn weekly. I would rather die before I mowed the lawn, but my partner knows this and is happy to fill that gardening role.

We each do our laundry. I do most of the cooking because it brings me more joy. My partner is a great teammate and does the kitchen cleanup. So, is this an equitable workload?

Probably not. But it works for us as a couple. I am also happy to pick up the slack when my partner has a busy week or extra concerns. Likewise, when I need additional support, my partner shows up to listen and help to take care of things or provide alternatives when I ask.

We are a team, and sharing the workload acknowledges that things are not always balanced. We are happy to take turns as needed, talking about it and negotiating when we are both stretched thin.

We Manage Challenges By Managing Self-Care

Partners with a plan for tending to their own needs have more capacity to support you and the relationship when asked. Ensuring that self-care is prized and practiced is assuredly a successful path to relationship resiliency.

If you're working from your reserves, you cannot tend to the space between you and your partner. I know that when I eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and spend the right amount of time nurturing friendships, I'm more likely to show up as my better self for my partner and can tend to our relationship garden with more energy.

A partner who practices good self-care knows what is appropriate to bring to their partner and what may require an outside expert, family member, or close friend.

We Are Sensitive to Each Other's Vulnerabilities

Caring, attuned partners recognize vulnerabilities and move softly and gently about them. They are conscious of their word choice and body language. They notice response cues. They check in to see if you are still present and able to engage.

Sensitive partners can pause and move at the best pace for the most vulnerable person at that moment. They slow down and trust that what needs to be said and done will happen.

We Make The Relationship A Top Priority

When we make tending to the relationship the number one priority after self-care, we are better together. All else comes after this imperative. Work demands, friends, family of origin, hobbies, and interests are all second to the connection between us. It's best demonstrated through eye contact and doing one thing at a time.

For example, when my partner puts down his phone and physically turns toward me, I know he prioritizes me and us. When I ask his opinions about spending time, money, or energy, he knows I want what is best for us.

seek to connect in your relationship

We Seek to Reconnect After a Fight (or a Rupture)

Wanting connection more than needing to be right helps to move us towards repair when things go off track. Having a system of time-outs or a reset button is valuable. Repairing ruptures means being willing to say:

  • "Let's try that again."
  • "I think I can do that better."
  • "That is not actually what I meant to say or do."
  • "Can we reset?"
  • "I can see that my words upset you. Help me understand why."
  • "You may be right."
  • "I may be wrong."

The key is to create a space between stimulus and response that is large enough to allow thoughtful receptivity but not so vast as to trigger feelings of abandonment.

It's crucial to return to the scene of the conflict as soon as possible, with the intention of understanding the other person. Remember, when we are pitted against each other, we are not truly together.

We Understand Each Other As We Are (Not As We Are Seen)

We take the time to hear and understand each other, to treasure us! Being seen and heard are at the heart and core of being understood. Being understood is the very soul of being loved. Your partner can communicate in the language that you speak. The more you know about your partner's ways of being, thinking, feeling, and sensing, the more you will genuinely emphatically understand them.

Stepping into each other's world and exploring how they developed their beliefs, practices, and certainties will help us see the other beyond the lens of our own beliefs, experiences, and understanding.

Real connection is based on real understanding. When the connection feels weak, it's best to become curious. Listen with curiosity and seek to understand. Become curious and wonder what you don't know that prevents you from fully understanding your beloved.

We Express Appreciation For Things Said And Done

Consistently expressing verbal appreciation can bring things you think about each other into the space between you both. When you appreciate your partner, they feel seen, validated, and motivated to do those things more.

If you could only select one item to change in your relationship, I'd start with a five-minute gift. This five-minute gift would change your way of being in your relationship by sharing and exchanging just one daily appreciation for one another, mirrored and finished with a connective hug.

Here are some examples of those transformative statements:

  • "Are you available to receive an appreciation?"
  • "One thing I appreciate about you today is…" (Your partner mirrors what you said.)
  • "When you do (or say)…I feel…"
  • "Thank you for being you!!"

Always remember to switch and repeat; the best feeling is ending with a connective ONE MINUTE (the longest minute in the world!) a silent HUG, and a six-second kiss! You're welcome!

Remember to focus on the two of you as a team with statements like:

  • What we both want in our relationship is…

What people most deeply long for is to be loved. In order to be loved, be more loving and lovable. If you bring these traits to your relationship, chances are your partner will meet you there and stretch and grow with you.

This ideal vision of your relationship is always sitting before you, urging you towards more safety, warmth, and reliable attunement - a connected relationship that brings out the best in each of you.

If you and your partner are struggling in your relationship, we're here to help. Check out our virtual and in-person Imago Relationships Workshops and Imago Relationships Therapy.

Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Insights Education.

Connect. Transform. Thrive.

image-6This blog post was written by Hayley Hoffman, MA, LPC.

Hayley trained as a psychodynamic clinical counselor focusing on helping couples and individuals to live relationally and to navigate life’s terms. She works from an empathic stance, helping clients through the process of noticing, identifying, and understanding patterns of behavior that, while once useful coping mechanisms, are no longer working. Together with her clients, they explore attachment meaning, past and current dynamics, somatic experiences, and ways to consciously connect in relationships with self and others.

Hayley’s practice is rooted in “unconditional positive regard,” creating a safe haven for exploring vulnerability and change, and a spiritual approach to life’s ups and downs, drawing on the lessons she has learned in Imago Therapy, Polyvagal Informed Therapy, 12-step work, and psychodynamic clinical theory. Her client base is focused on adults, individuals, and couples.

After obtaining a Master’s in Clinical Counseling from Northwestern University, she became a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist. She is an experienced Getting the Love You Want Workshop Presenter. She also offers the Keeping the Love You Find relationship workshop for individuals. She is certified in the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) and has trained with Deb Dana in Polyvagal Theory and the applications of this theory in therapy.

Check out her Website and Online Couples Workshops too!

Topics: Healthy Relationships, Happy Relationships, Finding Love Again, Divorce Proof, Active Listening, Lasting Love, Happy Marriage, Imago Dialogue, Healthy Love, Relationship Goals, Ideal Partner, Couple Goals, Marriage Tips, Relationship Help, Long Lasting Love, Grow Together, Relationship Tips, Love and Marriage, Relationship Advice, Happy in love, How Healthy Relationships Work, How to Communicate Better, How to Create Better Relationships, Lasting Relationships, Ideal Relationship

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