Maintaining A Healthy Relationship

Maintaining a healthy Relationship. Psychology Fanatic article header image
Maintaining a healthy Relationship. (Adobe Stock Images)

Relationships don’t deteriorate without a cause, active forces pound against the bonds that strengthen or destroy connections. Usually, one negative interaction—depending on the severity—doesn’t leave us abandoned and alone. We destroy our relationship through accumulating negative happenings—the disappointments, the aloneness, the selfishness, and the anger.  The nasty interactions slowly chip away at the positive feelings, leaving interactions laced with fear and resentment. However, the same principle applies to maintaining a healthy relationship. We build strong bonds through repeated positive relationship behaviors.

Negative Sentiment Override

We usually have time to reexamine our path. Questioning past actions and replacing them with something a little kinder. Slowly transforming relationship a cold relationship atmosphere through the warm feelings of love. If we have neglected our important relationship for too long, bonding feelings slowly change, the closeness deteriorates, and we experience what we refer to has negative sentiment override.

In negative sentiment override couples perspectives change. The cute endearing qualities of a partner begin to annoy. Our positive subjective interpretations now see blaring imperfections. This switch is a step towards relationship failure. We must act swiftly to save the relationship, infusing interactions with positive interactions. Keeping a positive sentiment about our partner is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship.

Action is the building blocks of success. Positive action strengthens connection. We still will make mistakes or encounter unresolvable differences that lead to conflicts. These don’t feel good but are a part of the growing process and a natural component of all relationships. As long as we take note of the conflict, work to find a compromise, and seek to repair hurt feelings, the conflicts will add to the strength and closeness of your relationship.

Raven Ishak wrote that a healthy relationship behavior in communication is when partners institutively know during conflict that a lover is “that they are “not trying to prove me wrong — but, rather, they want to find a medium where we are both happy” (2023).

“Over time, people fail to give proper attention to their partner and the relationship they share. This usually isn’t caused by malice. Rather, couples stop making kind gestures to each other because of mistaken assumptions about the nature of lasting love.” 

~Barbara Markway Ph.D.  |  Psychology Today

​We don’t erase mistakes with an apology or an excuse but we may be forgiven in light of the constant stream of other positive interactions. Still the good moments must far outweigh the bad. We should expect that when a partner returns home from work that the feelings will be positive. We can trust in a warm accepting experience.

Little Behaviors Add Up

Overtime, many neglect the little moments—the bad mood from work is projected onto the family. Hurts, aggravations and angry retorts easily become the norm. Reuniting in the evening isn’t warmly anticipated but poisoned with anxiety, pre-reuniting is tainted by the unknown state of a spouse’s mood. “Today, will they be happy or angry.” The unpredictable emotionally lability disrupts peaceful moments, changing relationship longing to fearful anticipation. We maintain a healthy relationship through making it more predictable.

When negative experiences accumulate, they color the present. Even an earnest apology doesn’t replace the past. The emotional hurt remains tucked away, waiting to be recalled when future behaviors demonstrate lack of contriteness. We bury the hatchet with the handle sticking-up—just in case.

“Hurts, aggravations and angry retorts easily become the norm.” 

A Surprise: The Relationship in Shambles

You may eventually ask, “what happened to the love we once shared?” But a careful examination usually exposes a lengthy pattern of neglect, abuse, or apathy. Instead of purposely building the relationship, somewhere along the way, it became comfortable and then neglected. We must save the relationship before the connection is completely severed.

T. Franklin Murphy suggests that one way to save the relationship is to begin with the very basics, namely our thoughts. He wrote, “Without lifting a finger, a thought can begin to wreck a relationship. How we think motivates the actions that determine the success or failure of a marriage. No magic trick involved; just the power of thought” (2018).

“At some point in the marriage, typically early on, bad relationship behavior begins to surface and often becomes the source of a lot of conflict. These behaviors often contribute to a decline in our loving feelings.”

~Dr. Cole Ratcliffe

Healthy Relationships and Neglect

To avoid surprises we must be mindful of changing environments. Underlying feelings slowly morph from loving, to tolerant, to destructive. When we astutely catch these transformations early, we can intervene, reinfuse the relationship with love and avoid an untimely divorce or emotional divide. No relationship is perfect. We all must work on relationship skills. Natural tendencies of selfishness invade when we are comfortable and secure. Oddly, healthy relationships invite comfort and comfort invites slacking. We stop maintaining healthy relationship behaviors. Consequently, we become sloppy and the health of the relationship suffers.

We must avoid this slow drift to destruction by mindfully identify negative interactions—even the best relationships have them—and then establish a healthy pattern of positive, trust building behaviors. Soon the anxieties transform, filling moments with warmth, trusting our partner will respect and be kind. The relationship is spared from self-destruction by our active building, and mindful maintenance of the relationship.

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Ishak, Raven (2023). Women Who Were In Toxic Relationships Are Revealing The Healthy Couple Habits Their Exes Never Did. Buzzfeed. Published 3-16-2023. Accessed 4-19-2023.

Murphy, T. Franklin (2018). Saving a Relationship. Published 4-16-2018. Accessed 4-19-2023.

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