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What quality makes the difference between a good relationship and an exceptional one?

posted 20 Jul 2013, 21:40 by Suzi Wallis   [ updated 28 Nov 2019, 18:54 ]
From both my experience working with couples, and my personal experience, I believe there are five non-negotiables for a good relationship:
  1. Love
  2. Trust
  3. Respect
  4. Friendship
  5. Kindness/compassion
  6. ?
If you don't have the first five, your relationship will have challenges that can sometimes make it feel like really hard work. You could be settling for less than you deserve if these qualities don't exist between you and your partner.
  1. Love: This one may seem obvious, but I'm talking about the love that develops after the initial attraction phase. When the lust dies down and you are left liking both the person and their qualities, deep love can develop. You aren't constantly swept off your feet or obsessing about your partner; you feel hopeful and happy about the time you spend together (and the planning you make as a couple).
  2. Trust: Trust is essential in building a strong foundation - trust in yourself to make valid choices that support the relationship, and trust that your partner will do the same. In order to have trust, you need to understand each other's boundaries clearly. Don't assume you will automatically know what these are - if you discuss them, you'll have a much better understanding of each other.
  3. Respect: Respect can be modelled in many ways. One way that it shows between couples in a strong relationship is listening to each other's opinion even if they disagree, and giving feedback in a respectful way (if it's helpful and requested). Respect can also be shown by the way you talk about your partner when they're not others, publicly, on forums like social media - respect and disrespect can both be easily identified. Respecting each other's differences is a key factor to strong relationships of all kinds.
  4. Friendship: This is about genuinely liking the person you are intimately involved with, wanting to spend time with them, having a laugh together, hanging out and feeling safe in each other's company. If your partner is truly your best friend, and you can count on them for anything, you're very blessed.
  5. Kindness: Sometimes we are kinder to strangers than we are to the person we have promised ourselves to. Everyday kindness will be so appreciated, even unconsciously, by the person you spend your life with. This also applies to thanking your partner for their kindness - even if they cook dinner five nights a week or mow the lawns every week without fail, thanking them will help them to feel appreciated.
The sixth quality that I believe takes a good relationship into the realm of exceptional is acceptance. Not only is acceptance a vital part of the grief process, enabling you to move in a forward direction, it is also a quality that can help to make your relationship unshakeable. That may sound like an exaggeration, yet the people I know who have this, have relationships that look as solid as it's possible to get. Acceptance is truly being ok with your partner's values, their way of seeing the world, their way of making choices you wouldn't make, their questioning of you - the list goes on.

Suzi Wallis | Nov 2011