For the month of September, we are going to offer some expert insight and practical wisdom into the components of a healthy relationship. Your guides in this journey are relationship educator Maeve Fry and paranormal romance author Calinda B. As the autumn season unfolds, we hope to offer steps/tips on how to get there from here. Are you ready? We are!
Calinda B: When Maeve and I were discussing our first topic, we realized that the topic of “A Healthy Relationship” is a rather broad topic. Since there are so many styles of relating, I suggested we approach the topic as one of searching for the common threads that define a healthy relationship.
Maeve: Well, what is a healthy relationship? How would we recognize one, since most of us have never seen one? Have any of us willingly enrolled in the “Healthy Relationship Curriculum”? Actually, without our permission, we have. We attended the Private School of Family of Origin, learning about intimacy, communication, safety and love from our parents and siblings, school and perhaps church of some sort. We have all enrolled in the on-going graduate courses offered by television, movies and media of all sorts. We’ve attended night classes filled with advice from friends, offering their relationships as models.
I like to ask, “How’s it working for you?”
Before even reading our take on healthy relationship, the first place I’d like you to go is forgiveness. You are doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Start from there and keep an open mind. You are not broken or wrong….simply uneducated.
Calinda B: Even the brightest individual makes mistakes along the way. I’ve made a million of them and keep getting snagged along the way. The good news is that we can learn to jump out of the “holes” we fall into quicker and quicker. In time, we might even be able to avoid more and more holes along the way by keeping our eyes open and our mind aware. Keeping forgiveness in mind, let’s explore more of what a healthy relationship is.
Maeve: Here are a few components I see in a healthy relationship: Clear and effective communication, commitment to the truth and to staying in love.
Calinda B: So true, Maeve. When I met the man I call The Official Sweetie Pie (TOSP), the thing that sealed the deal was the communication – that and a commitment to love. When times are tough, we will grab each other’s hands and say “I am committed to lasting love with you for the rest of my life.” TOSP is one of the most honest men on the planet. While that has its own challenges, I trust him to always tell me his truth. As a result our relationship is a dynamic, ever-changing one.
Maeve: What you described, Calinda, is so vital to keeping a relationship alive, growing and passionate. When we withhold our truths, we lock down and lose our aliveness. And our partner loses us, as well. It takes real courage to be our real selves. I know it does for me. This is what I mean when I talk about being transparent, being willing to be truly seen, even if it’s scary.
Calinda B: Oh, that’s a good one, Maeve! It does take real courage to be transparent. It’s not for the faint of heart, believe me! There are days I’d rather be as opaque as a brick wall but I know it will not get us to intimacy or solve the issue at hand.
Maeve: A healthy relationship comes with having your partner be your best friend, and the secure knowledge that he/she will be there for you no matter what, and vice versa.
Having fun together, sharing interests and deep values are needed, being able to speak a common language, laughing at the same things, sharing music, food, sexuality and spirituality are primary components of a healthy relationship. I like to say that most of the “cherries on the slot machine” need to line up…you’ll never get every single one of them, of course.
Calinda B: Maeve, I feel like you’ve brought up something worth noting. TOSP and I don’t really share musical preferences. He likes music I would call “calm.” I like funky, techno, hip hop, rap, pop, rock and roll, R&B, soul and ambient tunes. We have found at least one place of common musical ground, however – when we are driving and we are tired we listen to 60s and 70s songs in the car and sing loud. As for food, he is a vegan. I am not. We’ve come to respect one another’s dining preferences, though; as we each recognize that our preferences serve our respective health and values.
Maeve: I call that creating win/win…wanting your partner to have what he/she wants, and not giving up on what you want. There’s always a place for creativity in creating solutions out of love and caring.
Calinda B: As for the topic of sexuality, I’m sure we’ll explore that one more! That’s a very deep, complex subject. One thing I’d like to interject here though, is something that I noticed in my many relationships along the way – the first sign that my relationship was on the brink was when I had no interest – none – in being sexual with my partner. I’d feel a barrier to intimacy and sexual connectedness as dense as a mountain. On the other hand, when my relationship is in harmony, we can engage in sexual connecting in a moment’s notice! Please go on….
Maeve: So much to talk about here. I can’t wait to dive in deeper.
But, perhaps the most important piece of all is doing your own personal work. That means courageously looking in your own mirror, seeing what you bring to the relationship banquet, and being able to work on and heal any issues that may be negatively impacting your ability to be truly intimate and loving. That’s what you are so great at, Calinda.
Calinda B: Thank you. And it’s so true! That’s one of the things I have my characters do in my books – face themselves and deal with their issues. For me, being able to “own my stuff” has been the key to learning how to build a successful relationship. I remember turning a corner once when I found myself immersed in a particularly unhealthy marriage. That marriage was so bad, so deeply un-fulfilling, that I half-joke today that I “tried to die to leave the guy” one year into the marriage. I was miserable and at times could see no way out. Once I extracted myself from that one, I had to look in the mirror and find the common denominator in all my dysfunctional relationships – I was looking at her. That’s when real change started to happen – when I took responsibility for my actions.
Maeve: Brilliant. That was my turning point, as well. What an exciting exploration, though it really took courage to really look and feel all the emotions that came up.
Calinda B: We’ve started the conversation off with a bang, haven’t we? I hope our readers know we have barely scratched the surface of healthy relating.
Maeve: We have. This is only a start, but it’s a good one. I’d like to ask our readers: What are your thoughts and ideas? What would you like to have more of in your relationships? We would love to hear from you!
Maeve works with her husband Orv Fry in Grass Valley California. With over 15 years working together as a couple, they model what they teach! Believing that the most effective work is through experience, skill, compassion and transparency, they reveal their individual experiences and growth in a vulnerable, yet powerful manner. They do Individual and Couple Sessions, Individual and Couples Intensives, and Sex Education Sessions. These may be in person, on Skype or on the phone. To find out more visit www.ignitersoftheheart.com.
Calinda B is the author of the highly successful Wicked Series, an erotic paranormal romance series. She weaves her own courage and relational wisdom into her entertaining paranormal reads with skill and magic. To find out more or to buy the books, visit www.calindab.com.