Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Three legs of a healthy relationship

Warning!  This will not by a typical Momginerd blog with lots of sarcasm and humor, but I do still think it has a lot of good messages to share.

When I got divorced a few years ago I spent a lot of time reflecting on what went wrong and why.  I came up with an analogy to a 3-legged stool that I think are the basics of a healthy, long term, and happy relationship. 

When you just don't
care enough to care

Emotional:  You need to have an emotional connection to your partner.  By this, I mean you need to feel about your partner's happiness, in many ways, more than you do about your own.  If your partner is unhappy, then you will be too.  If your partner is happy then you feel better as well.  When you have an emotional connection with someone it is almost like you are linked metaphysically.  Their emotions have a direct effect on your own.  I know with HH I can tell emotionally when he is feeling depressed, happy, anxious, etc.  By having the emotional connection to each other you are more in tune in many ways to the non-verbal cues that they are offering.  When you don't have that connection, you are clueless as to how they feel and it can lead to feelings of apathy towards each other.  When you feel apathetic towards your partner, I think, it is the beginning of the end.  You have lost all emotional connection and you just don't care enough anymore to try and get it back. 

Physical:  Well, this one should be pretty self-explanatory.  You MUST be attracted to your partner.  And by attracted I mean more than just the feelings of lust you have at the beginning of a relationship.  Sure, that is physical and is important, but it really doesn't last if there aren't more things you find are attractive about your partner than the color of their eyes or hair or if they have an incredible body.  To me the physical goes beyond the immediate lust to the little things that makes my partner irresistible to me.  The twinkle in his eye when he gets my jokes.  The smile that he reserves ONLY for me that tells me in one instant I am the woman for him, he loves and adores me despite my numerous flaws.  Don't get me wrong, he definitely fits the title of Hottie Husband not just because I find him attractive but because he is gorgeous.  But, at the end of the day his actual physical appearance from afar isn't the most important thing to me.  Sure, I pursued the relationship with him in the beginning because I found him very physically appealing, but just that isn't what made me want to spend the rest of life with him.  I think that the fact that  4+ years later he still makes my heart flutter is more attributed to the little things about him only I notice. 

Intellectual:  By intellectual I do not mean to imply that your partner needs to have an IQ above 140, or even that both partners have to have matching intelligence and educational levels.  I mean that you have to be able to connect with your partner in an intellectual way.  You need to be able to communicate your feelings/thoughts/issues/problems in a way you can both understand.  If you can't have a conversation about a topic you care about with your partner, then it is very difficult to accomplish many other tasks in a relationship.  Intellectual compatibility is SO important when it comes to family decisions on how to raise your children, how to manage finances, and long term goal planning.  You don't have to AGREE, you just have to be able to value the differences and see them as strengths.  HH and I try very hard to be sure that when one of us has an important issue that the other one understands exactly what the issue is and that we work as a partnership to fix the problem.  Don't get me wrong, we are not the "perfect couple" but we have both had bad relationships in the past and we put the utmost importance on communication.  We have certain topics (Ex's, step kids primarily) that we still don't see eye to eye, but, we have learned to respect the differences and make peace with our situation.   Intellectual compatibility is also tied with empathy towards each other.  Empathy only comes when one can truly understand how and why their partner feels certain ways about different topics.  My personal cross to bear is making sure that I place the same value on his issues/concerns as he does.  For example,  HH gets stress overload much easier than me.  I am used to doing 1000 different things per day, most of them all at the same time.  He, on the other hand, likes to accomplish one task and move on to the next.  I have to be cognizant of how he thinks and not add to his stress by constant bitching and offering up "solutions" to what I perceive as his issues.  You see, to him this isn't an issue it is just who he is as a person.  And yes, it drives me nuts and I many times have to take a step back and realize he is the sum of all of the things I love about him, not just the pieces I want to change. 

I 100 percent believe that when a relationship has all three legs, and all three are strong, that the relationship can last a life-time.  When you are missing one of the legs, or that part of the relationship breaks, you end up either living in an apathetic relationship or you go your separate ways.

This is my goal with HH, love to last a lifetime
 Like I said, I am not a relationship expert, and I don't even play on on TV, however this is how I feel and think.  What do you think?  Am I off base?  What have been your past experiences?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time (which will be funnier, I promise),


  1. Thanks so much for this post, I think everyone in a long term or otherwise committed relationship needs to consider these things and make an effort every day to maintain that relationship. Great points. Exes and steps are a regular bone of contention in my house, too.

  2. Thanks Becca! There is nothing like falling on your metaphorical ass when one of the legs is broken...


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