psychotherapy for individuals and couples in Denver Colorado since 1995
meditation classes, astrological readings, and long distance counseling also available
Beth Strong, MA, LPC
Strong Suite Therapies
March 29, 2014
The Seven Pillars of a Good Relationship
This is a good way to assess your strengths as a couple. Few couples are strong in each category, but when you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can capitalize on them and work on what's falling short.
1. Sharing Core Values
Hopefully a couple shares about 80 % of their values on life. This includes things like wanting children, lifestyle choices, and how to spend and save money. But the list is long, and specific to each individual.
2. Ultimate Safety, or in some cases, Enough Safety
Not only do you know you will be physically safe in each other's company, you also know you aren't the target of verbal or emotional abuse. You know your partner isn't going to cheat on you or go out and spend all your money. You know that you have each other's backs.
It doesn't mean you won't fight. But if you do fight, it's safe. No one threatens the relationship when you fight, and if there's anger, it isn't threatening, but it is a message someone feels hurt, or something's gone wrong.
3. The Container is Strong (Proactive Reassurance)
Both partners contribute to the daily and recurring reassurances of how important one is to the other. This doesn't mean a codependent need to hear the I love you's several times a day, but it does mean that when you're out in public, there's no question you're together, the love and tenderness are apparent.
4. Mutual Reciprocity / Give and Take
You both are interested and to some degree emotionally invested in each other's lives, successes and failures. One does not dominate each conversation and distract when the other is sharing. One partner doesn't feel it isn't worth sharing because the other partner isn't interested. We don't always know how to talk about ourselves, but when this is working, both partners take the time to overtly show their interest in what's happening in the day to day experience of the other.
5. Good Fighters (Resolving Conflict Well)
Some couples never fight. This is fine if they really are on the same page about everything they care about and they can communicate the hard stuff and get resolution. However, that level of elegant communicating is rare. Relationships draw in our younger, less articulate parts of ourselves and let's face it: if the feelings aren't activated, there's probably not much reason to be in the relationship.
So, when fighting happens, the couple has figured out how to get the fights, or the quiet conversations that happen a few days later, to mean something. To figure out solutions. To hear each other and both partners feel heard. Validated.
6. Vitality and Growth for Both
In other words, neither person feels locked in or frozen by the relationship. It's not about independence, (and it's definitely not about codependence.) This is about both people staying connected to their own self, vibrant, alive, open to the next curve on the road of life. Vibrant and interested. yet finding balance between their own identity and identifying themselves as a couple too. Keeping up with your own interests, your own friends, and interweaving your interests with his, your friends with hers.
And the 7th pillar? Call to see Beth, and hear the full story.