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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante  

Eight ingredients of a strong relationship

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

Love is in the air! Although February 14 is the day when romantic love is officially celebrated, summer brings with it an atmosphere of relaxation and ease. There is more opportunity for long walks and bike rides, outings to the pool or beach, backyard BBQs, and going for ice cream. Previous articles that I have written emphasize the importance of connecting with your partner often and in various ways – physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Warm weather simply provides more events and opportunities for couples to spend time together.

On the topic of romantic relationships, another common question that I get asked is, “How do we know that this relationship will last?” The simple answer is that no one can predict the future, but if you keep working at improving closeness between the both of you, your chances of lasting love is higher.

Our loved ones have a strong impact on us, and we all become different people over time. Strong signs of a healthy, long-lasting relationship are:

1. Both partners are kind to themselves and others – People who are self-confident do not criticize themselves often, and hence, will not likely see their partner with a critical eye. Those who are compassionate can recognize the troubles that others have, and so are more likely to want to help rather than blame. One meaningful way to grow together as a couple is to discuss how you can be charitable. Donating to the poor and sick can be a great way to feel that you as a couple are contributing to society.

2. You laugh together – Humour is an antidote to stress, anxiety and fear. Laughing at yourself and with your partner adds joy and an appreciation for life. The spotlight then is on positivity. Some studies support that playfulness and a sense of humour is one of the most attractive qualities in a mate. This makes sense even from an evolutionary perspective; someone who is playful is not aggressive in nature, so is someone safe to be around. A person who has a sense of humour conveys the feeling of being young, and hence is a good partner to have children with.

3. Each person is humble and forgives – For minor first-time offenses (e.g. forgetting about your promise to take out the garbage), it is good to forgive and forget about it. This will likely result in the same attitude from your partner when you make a mistake. With repeated and serious offenses, couples should talk about the problem, express hurt, and talk about the consequences and how to earn trust again. This is not always the easiest choice because it requires humility and feeling vulnerable. But the couple then moves towards true forgiveness, rather than getting angry, defensive, or ignoring the problem.

4. You notice when good happens and acknowledge it – We teach young children to say “thank you” to show appreciation, but sometimes we forget to do this with our partner. When we express gratitude, we become more kind and affectionate towards our loved one.

5. You share your emotions – In my work with couples, I often hear “he (or she) makes small talk with me, but that’s it” or “he or she) does not ask me about how my day is going.” Discussions about the household chores and schedules are not enough to sustain a strong bond with your partner. Strong relationships involve open and frequent conversations about when and why each person is angry, sad, happy or scared. In addition, there is no sense of feeling criticized when one does share their feelings. A sense of being close to your loved one will lead to conversations about future goals and dreams with each other.

6. Less attention paid to other attractive people – According to Psychology Today (August 2015), when there is solid commitment between two partners, other people do not seem as attractive. A “block” comes up and you only have eyes for your loved one. Feeling unappreciated, criticized or that you are “walking on eggshells” with your partner indicates that there is some doubt in the quality of your relationship. This could lead to the consideration of someone else who can provide that sense of safety and security.

7. Each partner supports the other’s growth – Good partners will be encouraging and excited when a new opportunity for their loved one comes along, whether it is a career change, new exercise class or hobby, or an evening out with their friends.

8. Differences are seen as good – There are no two people who are exactly the same. A healthy relationship will acknowledge differences between each person (e.g. one is more logical, and the other is more comfortable with people) and see how this makes them a better team.

To assess the level of communication and strength in your relationship, try discussing the above points together. The ideal outcome is that afterwards, you will feel a stronger sense of trust, understanding and acceptance with each other – and maybe have a laugh or two in the process.

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the founder of Nexus Counselling and a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She is a proud member of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and a provider for the Blue Cross Employee Assistance Program. Cheryl has experience helping clients with issues such as grief, depression, relationship difficulties, parenting, aging and illness. She can be reached at (204) 297-6744 or