Essential Relationship Skills - Great Health Guide
Essential Relationship Skills

Essential Relationship Skills

Written by Dr Matthew Anderson

As a counsellor of 45 years in practice, I often discuss with my clients the essential relationship skills to achieve flourishing relationships. The below list of essential relationship skills are ones that I consider vital for successful love relationships, especially and including marriage. I have compiled these skills from 45 years professional experience with couples and my own failure and success.

Both partners must reach a minimum of a level seven (on a scale of one to ten) for each item on the relationship skills list in order to ensure a happy and lasting relationship. Numbers should be assessed by both partners about themselves and about their partner. For example, if one partner gives himself a seven on maturity and his partner gives him a four, then the four should be the true number and the difference in perception should be discussed.

While this every item on this list of essential relationship skills is important, each couple may want to add to it, based on their own relationship values and needs. No item is to be removed, however, since each is truly essential for a meaningful, happy and lasting love relationship.

Essential Relationship Proficiency Skills

1. Love 1.0. While love is not generally thought of as a skill, it is definitely a required ingredient in a happy, lasting marriage. Love 1.0 means that both partners begin the relationship with a deep love for each other. The term ‘in love’ is appropriate here.

2. Love 2.0. This presupposes that both partners are ‘in love’ (see above) and goes to a second and crucial step. Both partners must be proficient at showing, communicating, giving and receiving love. (see below)

3. Maturity. Marriage requires two adult mature partners in order to be successful. Both partners may be physically adult but emotional maturity is also necessary. My experience with couples is that the two most significant reasons that couples break up are immaturity and inadequate communication skills.

4. My Partner is #1. Each partner must feel that they are #1 priority in their lover’s life. Work, children, lifestyle, location and other priorities may be important but must not take the place of their partner’s number one priority. Being #2 or #3 is always a significant obstacle to a marriage.

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5. Listening. You can really listen to your partner in stressful and non-stressful situations. One of the greatest (and truly rare) gifts that we can give another person, is to truly listen to them. At least 70% of all communication issues between you and your partner will disappear if you stop and listen.

6. Trust. Trust is the bedrock of a healthy, thriving relationship. Everything else stands on this foundation. If you become trustable, you will create safety and a place for openness.

7. Honesty. Honesty and trust are like yin and yang. Each one supports and nourishes the other. Honesty makes a relationship real and reality helps build trust.

8. Vulnerability. Vulnerability means opening your heart to and with your partner. When both partners are consistently vulnerable, intimacy deepens and the relationship grows stronger.

9. Sharing. Let your partner really know who you are, have been and hope to be. Holding back will limit and even damage your relationship possibilities.

10. Take responsibility & admit when you are wrong. The ability to admit your mistakes is crucial in resolving conflict. It takes strength of character to say, ‘I was wrong’.

11. Support for the other’s goals & needs. Making your partner’s life goals and needs as important as your own creates true partnership.

12. Self-awareness. Have at least a modicum of awareness of your feelings, thoughts and actions both positive and negative. The better you know yourself the better you will be as a person and a partner.

13. Be emotionally intimate. Emotional intimacy is a central part of a healthy, lasting love relationship. Make it your goal to be emotionally open in a positive way every day with your partner.

14. Give love. Saying ‘I love you’ in meaningful ways (from your heart) needs to happen daily. It keeps love alive and helps you avoid taking your lover for granted.

15. Receive love. Receiving love is equally as important as giving love. Opening your heart and allowing your lover’s love to make a difference will be one of your greatest gifts to her or him.

16. Affirm your partner daily. Great relationships are full of affirmation and almost devoid of negativity and criticism. Be specific and enthusiastic with every positive comment about your partner’s special qualities.

17. Accept daily obligations. It is important to handle normal adult obligations willingly and competently. Happy, healthy, lasting love relationships require two adults, not just one person carrying the daily load.

18. Fidelity. This means being true to your partner both physically and emotionally. Make him or her the only one every day and there will be no place for infidelity.

19. Precious. See your partner and relationship as precious. Hold your partner and your special connection as precious and you will live each day as a celebration of your love for one another.

OK, you read the essential relationship skills list and have done at least a preliminary assessment of how you and your partner are doing. Please take the time to sit together and discuss what you discovered. Do not use the list to make negative judgments about each other. Use it as a check up to see how well you are doing and where you need some improvement. Then make a plan to work on one or two items. Your relationship is worth it. Even a little progress in any of these areas, will make a difference.

Quick tip for success: Start with item #16 (your ability and willingness to affirm your partner daily). Sharing more positive affirmations daily will help you in all of the other areas mentioned above. Now get to it and enjoy!

Author of this article:
Dr Matthew Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry specialising in counselling. He has extensive training and experience in Gestalt and Jungian Psychology and has helped many people successfully navigate relationship issues. Dr Anderson has a best-selling book, ‘The Resurrection of Romance’ and he may be contacted via his website.

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