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8 Things That Are Just As Important As Love In Long, Healthy Relationships

Love is all we need, and in theory, this is correct. In an ideal world, love would embody the traits listed below. However, we tend to associate love with feelings rather than principles. The truth is, loving your partner despite their flaws and shortcomings isn’t always a bed of roses. Love is an umbrella statement that governs how we treat one another. Patience, kindness, avoiding envy, avoiding boastfulness, being humble, honorable, and thinking about the other person are the original guiding principles of love. Love consists of remaining calm, letting go of grudges, wishing others well, appreciating the truth, protecting one another, always trusting, hoping, and persevering. You can have beautiful relationships founded on love, and also these eight traits…

1. Commitment and effort

Commitment is deciding to choose each other time and time again. Effort is putting time and energy into our relationships-just like we do so many other things. Commitment is a promise. You’re not always going to feel like staying with your partner. You may even have moments where you lose physical attraction. Commitment is being there for one another rather than walking away because of disagreement. However, commitment should not be used to justify staying in an abusive relationship.

2. Shared values

Navigating relationships includes figuring out how you fit into each other’s lives. Creating a life together is easier when you have shared values that help guide behavior and hopefully create fewer problems to fight about. Having shared value is about asking questions. What are your views on loyalty? How do you view religion? What value do you place on health, money, and raising children? It’s about choosing a partner that you not only love but are compatible with. 

3. Respect

Your partner may say they love you, but do they respect you? Do they respect your opinions and communicate kindly? Respect is accepting people as they are, even if you don’t always agree with them—which you won’t. Respect is admiring your partner for just being who they are. Respect is keeping promises. Respect is being civil with one another. Respect helps build relationships. 

4. Open communication

One of the strong points of a healthy relationship is open communication. Open communication is the ability to share and empathize with your partner. If this bond is broken, you might need communication tools through a third party, like a couples therapist, to make sure you’re hearing each other correctly. Remember, trust doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some patience and practice. 

5. Listening and feeling heard

Similarly to open communication, listening and feeling heard can help build intimacy. In a healthy relationship, both people are, for the most part, comfortable with expressing themselves, having difficult conversations, and listening to each other. Conversations won’t always be easy, but there should be an exchange of being seen, heard, and validated. When you ignore each other’s needs, intimacy and communication in the relationship will suffer.  

6. Working through disagreements 

Disagreements are inevitable, but how you decide to work through them can create harmony or resentment. Make a plan for how you’re going to argue before it happens. Of course, you won’t always remember what you decided in the heat of the moment, but over time, you’ll figure out what works. The skills needed to work through disagreements include:

Seeking to understand the other person. Looking beyond your triggers. Looking for similarities instead of differences. Being open to listening. Taking responsibility for your feelings and using affirming language.

7. Mutual intimacy

Healthy relationships make room for mutual intimacy and connection, including setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. Intimacy looks like being able to have conversations about emotional and physical desires. You’re able to talk about sex, what feels good and what doesn’t. Having these conversations helps build intimacy.

8. Trust

Trust in a relationship means that you feel secure, stable, and protected with your partner. You increase trust by honoring your commitments, admitting when you’re wrong, being vulnerable, and showing that you care. Trust means relying on someone because you feel safe and have faith that they won’t intentionally hurt you. Trust is another building block of a healthy relationship.

Above all, love

Love is the most important trait in a relationship because love drives the rest of your actions. Often this isn’t obvious, so having these other traits will help you build stronger relationships.