What Maintains a Happy Relationship?

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Happy, healthy relationships require commitment and consistent maintenance. Happiness and harmony is not automatic. Whether the relationships are comprised of spouses, partners, siblings, parents and children, friends or co-workers, specific qualities should be cultivated and embraced. Without respect, compassion and compatibility, many relationships are at risk of crumbling.

Healthy Communication and Boundaries

Both parties in a relationship should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns and feelings to the other. Both must be willing to listen patiently and empathize with what is being stated. Personal boundaries are essential to healthy communication, as well. Requests for privacy and freedom from verbal abuse, for instance, should be respected.

Shared Power and Responsibility

Equality is essential to a happy partnership. Each partner should be willing to compromise and should have opportunities to provide input on matters relevant to the relationship. For example, a married couple may jointly make decisions regarding large financial investments. Similarly, they might share responsibility for parenting duties. Either party may defer to the other on certain matters, but what is most critical is that the opportunity itself is available.

Physical and Emotional Intimacy

Intimacy is critical to a fulfilling relationship. It can present itself sexually when applied to a romantic relationship. It can also consist of hugs, hand holding, smiles, compliments and any other displays of affection or appreciation. In any type of relationship, intimacy is found in the ability to confide in another, spend time doing enjoyable activities together and to grieve losses in one another's company.

Honesty and Trust

In relationships with solid foundations of honesty and trust, participants are able to expose their vulnerabilities. This can be done without fear that said vulnerabilities will be used as a means of control. Partners can also feel confident that what they hear from their counterparts is true -- in a healthy relationship, if one person expresses a desire to have children, the other would accept this information as genuine and not a means of manipulation.