Let’s examine some of the universal qualities that are essential for any of these relationships to flourish and remain healthy and alive. The first essential quality is commitment. When we make a commitment to a relationship, we have some degree of unconditional regard for the relationship. The relationship is reciprocal and we are present in the relationship when it is easy and meets our needs, as well as when it is a difficult struggle and we feel like we are doing all the giving. To make such a commitment, we must be capable of selfless service beyond the needs of our ego and the relationship must have a deeper vision or meaning which transcends those unpleasant times.
The second essential quality is conscious attention. All healthy relationships require consistent, ongoing, conscious attention to survive and thrive. It is a simple fact that whenever we put our attention on something, we are choosing to create more of it. Similarly, whatever we ignore, we are choosing to let go of and allow to fade out of our lives. Where we choose to put our attention and how long we do so is one of the most important decisions we have to make in our lives. We live in a world with more distractions to steal our attention than humanity has ever experienced before. As Thom Hartmann says in his brilliant book, The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight, television is the most pervasive and powerful drug available today. When it is on, conscious attention to our relationships is all but impossible. Yet couples and families frequently have many meals and conversations while the TV is on. TV encourages passivity and mindless inattention. One aspect of conscious attention is the ability to listen without judgment. A foundational skill to all healthy relationships is the ability to really be present to understand what is going on for the other: listening with our ears, feeling with our hearts, seeing with our eyes and sensing with our intuition. What does this other person really need? What do I need right now to feel in harmony? If you have an active spiritual perspective, you can also ask, What is my concept of a Higher Power saying as it flows through me every day of my life?
The third essential quality is respect. We can consciously attend to other people, but if we do so from an attitude of manipulation and control, the outcome will be a one-sided unhealthy relationship. An attitude of respect, on the other hand, nourishes the heart of both participants and assures that each person’s needs are attended to. Related to respect is gratitude. When we commit to a relationship, give it conscious attention, and feel respect for the person or entity we are in relationship with, we naturally are grateful for their presence in our lives. We honor the gifts they bring us and communicate our gratitude on a regular basis, in whatever form feels right.
Another essential quality to a healthy relationship is trust. We must be able to trust when things appear to be going nowhere in our lives. We must have faith that there is something going on that we cannot comprehend or see. Similarly, when we are quiet and mindful and listen to our self, we must trust the impulses from that small, still voice within when it suddenly urges us to go off in a new direction.
The sixth essential quality is bonding. In any alive relationship, there must be a mechanism for an ongoing connection, for a reciprocal exchange of energy, which is bonding. Bonding is a basic human need. We are most bonded with other people when we are touching and also maintaining eye contact. Yet how rarely we communicate with others in this manner! And notice how we can also bond with the Earth in this manner, how it feels different to walk barefoot along a lake or ocean than to hurriedly stride in thick shoes atop concrete and asphalt barriers. And how do you bond with your self? What rituals have you developed in your lifetime? What do you do to feel an alive exchange of energy?
An interesting exercise is to examine your relationships and see how many of these qualities are a regular part of each of those relationships. For example, are you committed to your self, to bringing out the full range of your gifts to the world? To your own happiness and fulfillment? Are you able to commit to an intimate partner? Or do you have a commitment to a genuine spiritual path?
Reflect on how much conscious attention you give to your self and others. See if you are relating to them with respect and gratitude. Notice if you have a basic sense of trust with your self and others. And be aware of how much genuine bonding you do with the important people in your life and with your own self. Consciously reflecting on these questions can open the door to richer, deeper, healthier and more alive relationships on all levels of your life.
If you or your partner are having difficulty manifesting these qualities in your relationship, call us at (248) 546-0407 and find out how we can help you create a healthy, loving relationship that will last a lifetime.