What are the 4 main ingredients for a happy relationship?
Trust: Trust is a core feature in human relationships. In a relationship, there needs to be confidence that The Other, usually our partner, will have our best interest at heart. Trust is a close cousin of faith and confidence; faith and confidence that The Other is aware that they hold our heart and will not drop it. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship and has as its base the belief and expectation that our partner would do nothing to betray us or our trust. Trust begins at birth, when an infant learns to expect that his or her needs will be consistently met and that parents will protect and provide for them. This trust becomes the template for all of our relationships throughout our lives and proves to be the most important ingredient in a relationship.
Mutual Respect: Do you hear, respect and honor each other? Is there room enough for both of your feelings? Do you treat and are you treated in a respectful way by your partner? What it comes down to is treating each other kindly.
Empathy: When your partner shares his or her feelings with you, even those feelings that include feedback to you, can you get separate enough to hear the hurt or scared little boy or girl in your adult partner and hear, really hear, what they are saying and empathize? Or do you get defensive, try to "fix", or explain away their feelings? Empathy, the vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another, requires us to be there for another in a way that allows them to be heard and understood. Without empathy on our part, our partners will stop sharing. And without sharing, there is no true relationship. We all want to feel heard and understood. Eye contact, reflective listening (reflecting back that we hear the other person and can understand them) and non-judgmental responses show our partner we are empathic to their feelings which helps them feel safe enough to share in the future.
Fun: If we aren't having fun together then what are we doing? Ideally, we enjoy our partner, look forward to seeing them, laugh with them, giggle, smile, reminisce over times shared together and spend enjoyable time together. And laugh. Did I mention: "Laugh"?!