The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No.1 – Understanding

The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No.1 – Understanding

by Dr Emma Gray - 5th November, 2018

Relationship Workshop: Understanding

Our relationships determine our quality of life and how healthy they are is directly linked to how healthy we are, both physically and mentally. A healthy relationship shouldn’t be hard work, but it will need some work if we are going to get the most out of it. So, in this blog series I am going to share with you the 6 keys to a healthy relationship.

Today’s key is Understanding.

Not just any old understanding however, Empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It might seem an obvious one, that being able to empathise with your partner will improve your ability to meet each other’s needs and the health of your relationship, however, obvious, maybe, easy, not at all. We are all very internally focused, it is a survival strategy, spend too long focusing on someone else and you might get eaten by a predator, or knocked down by a bus, depending on which version of humans you prefer to think about. This means that we use ourselves as a point of reference when we think about others, so you may think that you are thinking about your partner but in fact you are more likely to be thinking about what You would do if you were your partner. These two things are very different with the latter resulting in you giving your partner what you would like in any given situation. And the problem is that the closer someone is to us the more likely we are to use ourselves as a point of reference when thinking about them.

Knowing this is half the battle. Follow these steps for the other:

To meet your partner’s needs:

1. Identify your thoughts and feelings about the situation

2. Put these to one side

3. Observe how your partner is behaving and use this to work out how they are feeling i.e. what would someone have to be feeling to behave in that way?

4. Once you have identified how you think your partner is feeling work out what they might have been thinking in order for them to feels this way.

5. Use this information to work out your next move.

If it is possible to talk to your partner about this new approach to things it will cut out some of the guess work and clear the path to a healthy relationship.

In my next blog I will share with you Key No 2, How To Get Your Needs Met.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

View all my other articles here...

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