We are always surprised when relationships don’t work out. It is a weird phenomena that a person we at one time wanted to spend all our time with suddenly warrants none of our time. It’s a dramatic and baffling shift.
There are a lot of things we tell ourselves to ease the blow. Excuses and reasons. Sometimes they are true. But while we are in a relationship, we never want to admit there might be a problem. We’re afraid we will jinx it if we do. Just as often, we have no idea whether what we are in is a healthy or unhealthy relationship. We’re too close to see clearly.
Relationships are made for thriving. They should not be things we are merely stuck in, but something that enriches our lives. Here are a few signs you have such a relationship.
1) Rare Interruptions
It might sound like a small thing, but interrupting one another says a lot about the state of your relationship. When we are intimate with someone, we know all their stories. We know what happened to them this week and, by the time they’re telling friends their opinion on something, we’ve likely heard it all the way through at least once.
As a result, we get impatient when our spouses talk. The same goes for boyfriends and best friends, parents and siblings.
Interruptions say one thing: what I have to say is more valuable than what you are saying. Unhealthy relationships use their partner as a sort of prop, a set-up man. All we want is our turn to talk. Thriving relationships celebrate what the other has to say. Sometimes my wife will turn to me, when we are in a group, and ask what I think about the topic we’re discussing. Rare interruptions (and if you’re really showing off, passing the baton intentionally) indicate you care and value what your partner has to say (and by extension, who they are and what value they add to a group).
2) The We Narrative (not make an adversary out of one another)
Another thing we see often is couples making an adversary out of one another. She talks about his bad eating habits and smelly feet. He talks about her unnecessary spending and constant nagging.
This is indicative of a particular narrative, likely one you’ve passive-aggressively adopted at home and are looking to validate among friends (and strangers). He should be cleaner. She should spend less. The couple is competing for who is best.
A WE narrative is inclusive. It celebrates one another. Thriving relationships talk about the successes of all participants, not just ME.