A Little About Relationships

Relationship is defined as a connection between two people. As social beings, such a connection remains one of our primary requirements. We want to be close to someone with whom it’s easy to share our thoughts and feelings without being judged. Meaningful relationships can be found between siblings, colleagues, friends, teacher and student or boyfriend and girlfriend. Every relationship should be tied together through two main elements called respect and mutual understanding. When these two elements are present, a relationship is healthy and long-lasting, making an individual feel secure and content.

There are some relationships that do exist, but without the two key elements. Such relationships lead to feelings of insecurity and a lack of happiness. Imagine being in a friendship where your friend is disrespectful towards you. How does the friendship look? How does it feel to be in such a relationship? Uncomfortable? Is this a long-term friendship? Not only does this apply to friendship, any relationship that is void of the two key elements will be anxiety provoking that will impact an individual in two ways: 1) an individual’s sense of self, 2) their willingness to stay in the relationship.

Sense of self is defined as an individual’s idea about themselves; it is the question that answers ‘Am I worthy?’ In an insecure relationship self worth is often questioned. Similarly, an insecure relationship also challenges the need to maintain the connection with the other person. It is important to realize how unhealthy relationship impact us psychologically and how beneficial even a single healthy and secure relationship is for one’s mental health.

Marriage is an important relationship as it determines how other relationships are built. For instance, if a couple has a healthy, secure, respectful relationship, the mental health of their children is likely to indicate towards well-being. These individuals will be capable of approaching life and other relationships in a positive manner. However, if these individuals learned aggression, criticism and violence from their parents, they would have a diminished ability to build healthier relationships in the future that make them feel secure. The early learning of how to build a relationship and connect with another person comes from parents or caregivers and hence it is important to discuss marriage.


In his book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, John Gottman lays out a detailed plan, a list of principles, for strengthening marital relationships. The principles he follows include: 


Understanding the Dynamics of Intimate Relationships

It is essential for us to understand the various factors that make or break intimate relationships. The first step is to develop an understanding of the term ‘intimacy’ itself. Intimacy is a multidimensional phenomenon that refers to the “depth and duration of connection with others; desire and capacity for closeness and mutuality of regard, reflected in interpersonal behavior”[1].

A healthy relationship results in positive consequences. A 75 years long study by Robert Waldinger and his colleagues at Harvard University revealed the importance of maintaining healthy relationships in an individual’s life and, explained how it contributes to their happiness. The study aims to track the lives of 724 men for 75 years and is still in progress. In a TEDx Talk, Waldinger explains that there are presently three vivid outcomes of the study. Firstly, people who are more socially connected to their spouses, family and friends, are happier, healthier and live longer. On the other hand, loneliness leads to disturbances in life. Loneliness here does not parallel to the idea of being alone, rather it is the feeling of being alone in a relationship that is not fulfilling. Secondly, warm intimate relationships help an individual’s overall functioning. Those who have a greater marital conflict are more likely to experience bad health, loneliness and depression. Thirdly, warm marital relationships prevent early aging while maintaining one’s health. Even in the presence of physical pain, individuals in healthy relationships were likely to feel less distress[2]. So, let us now discuss what a healthy relationship is.

A healthy relationship is based on 3 Cs: Communication, Commitment and Compromise. Communication entails the creation of trust between two individuals, which helps them to empathize with each other such that they can understand the other person’s perspective. In addition, this assertion helps minimize misunderstandings and misinterpretations of actions. Commitment is an essential part of this journey, which involves staying together through thick and thin. Lastly, compromising, on both ends, is a significant part that helps progress the relationship. The 3 Cs, if adopted and practiced by both ends, can create a healthy relationship[3].

[1] Oldham, J, M., Skodol, A, E., & Bender, D, S. (2014). The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Personality Disorders. Retrieved from

[2] Ward, M. (2016). 75-year Harvard study reveals the key to success in 2017 and beyond. Retrieved from 

[3] Watkins, B. (2014). Cs of Marriage: Ceremony, Celebration, Cleaving, Change, Compatible, Compete, Commitment, Communication, Complement, Compromise, Conformity. WestBow Press.Retrieved from


Learn about the nature of conflicts in a marriage   

 Marital Conflicts