A happy and fulfilled life is dependent on many things. Success, physical health, and gratitude are important factors, but research shows that high quality relationships are essential to having a joyful and meaningful life.
A good relationship is also good for your health and wellness. That’s what the science says. The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest and most comprehensive studies in the world and it examines how psychological and social factors early in life determine your wellbeing later in life. The study began in 1938 and follows the lives of 724 men and their families.
Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, is the Director of the study. In an article from the Harvard Gazette in 2017, Waldinger summarized the findings thus far. “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
Waldinger went on to say that “The researchers also found that marital satisfaction has a protective effect on people’s mental health. Part of the study found that people who had happy marriages in their 80s reported that their moods didn’t suffer even on the days when they had more physical pain. Those who had unhappy marriages felt both more emotional and physical pain.”
So, how do you make it to a happy old age? Well, it seems like a healthy relationship is key. Yet, building one is no easy task. Get it right and you’ll live longer and have a better quality of life. Get it wrong and you’re more likely to suffer from a higher risk of mental health issues, higher mortality rate, lost work productivity, and lack of sleep.
Men sometimes need a little help in recognizing what a healthy romantic relationship looks like. A Princeton University study from 2020 used machine learning to identify predictors of relationship quality. Based on the findings of the research team, here are 5 qualities that you should nurture in your relationships to reach those sublime glory days.
Work on These 5 Qualities to Improve Your Romantic Relationship:
You need to shift your perspective toward an “us” mentality. When you’re in a healthy romantic relationship, the “me” perspective gradually fades as you begin to nurture a shared experience. Avoid making individual decisions, especially about the most important factors of your life such as finances and long-term goals. Unify your purpose with your partner and you’ll reap the benefits of a better relationship.
It takes empathy to have a successful relationship. Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing. Empathy is when you acknowledge and accept your partners thoughts and feelings. Sympathy is similar but usually relates to only negative experiences and emotions. When you exhibit empathy toward your partner you predict their emotional responses and take their perspective into consideration.
Related: 5 Ways to Deal with Conflicts
A healthy relationship depends on both parties recognizing the good and bad qualities of themselves and their partner. Then, one must accept those qualities without always trying to change them. People drive themselves crazy in relationships when they constantly pick at perceived flaws of their partner. You also need to accept situations that are beyond your control. You also need to accept that change takes time.
Relationships rise and fall on the pendulum of balance. You need balance in different aspects of your relationship such as finances, sex, responsibilities, and communication. Most importantly, there needs to be a balance of power in the relationship. One partner can’t hold all the keys to the kingdom. Balance requires continuous effort, and it is more of an ongoing maintenance quality than a goal that can be attained just once.
Successful relationships thrive on mutual respect. Some relationships exist without it, but they become abusive and toxic. Respect must always be there for two individuals to work together toward the common goal of a happy and healthy relationship. Respect is easy to exhibit in good times, but you need to also show respect even when you and your partner disagree.
Creating and Maintaining Healthy Romantic Relationships
These five qualities are essential – respect, balance, empathy, acceptance, and unity. Yet, there are so many other factors that help a relationship thrive. You need to have trust, good communication, and make a concerted effort to promote harmony in your lives.
The important takeaway from the Harvard study and the Princeton University study is that a healthy relationship is essential for good health, but it doesn’t spontaneously create itself. Even when it’s love at first sight, both people need to work on the relationship constantly. It’s easy when you gain momentum in the right direction. It’s difficult when you neglect the important areas that were mentioned earlier. Keep this in mind when you search for a new romantic partner and when you make strides toward nurturing your existing relationship.