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Secret to a Healthy Relationship

Jeremy & Tina. Feb 12, 2009. Wedding day. Kauai, Hawaii.

When it comes to relationships, we all want love, security and support—all can be fulfilled by a healthy relationship. Aside from wanting the security that comes with a healthy relationship, we also want to appear to the world that our relationship is in fact a healthy one.

It’s funny that to the outside world, we try to display an image of perfection… with roses, smiles and rainbows.

But in reality, no matter how hard we try to appear perfect and got-our-stuff-together, on some level, we are also flawed humans trying to cover up that we’re not perfect.

I am one of these flawed humans. I think part of the reality of being human is that we make mistakes, we lose our patience, and that we aren’t perfect. This is the basis for all relationships— healthy or otherwise.

And we humans have a magical “gift” in creating conflicts with one another. The following is one such story from my life, which not only exposes our flaws but also shows us the secret to building a healthy relationship.

Personal Story: Seed to a Healthy Relationship

A few weeks ago, my husband Jeremy needed a web solution for something for work. Eager to contribute, I suggested WordPress—the blogging platform I use for TSN. I ended up spending the next few days helping him setup WordPress and web server on his laptop.

One day, he came home from work looking completely frustrated. Apparently, he ran into some technical roadblocks that caused a lot of confusion and questions.

I tried to explain the solution to him and it didn’t sink it. I must have done a poor job explaining, or maybe he wasn’t listening. I don’t know. I just remember that from my interpretation of the situation, he seemed really impatient and was not letting me complete my sentences.

We went back and forth a few times. I got frustrated and started to get impatient with him.

Regardless of what actually happened, the point is, we both lost patience with each other. The fueled temper and bad feelings escalated into name calling, being disrespectful and being unkind. We were like two children in grade 6, being totally mean to each other, just because “he started it first.”

I remember at one point, he called me a horrible teacher and that I always lose my patience when teaching things to people. Part of me wanted to drop kick him, and part of me knew that he was right.

But because he was telling me in such a mean tone, all I wanted to do was to say something hurtful back to him, and to make him take partial responsibility for provoking me in the first place.

My pride was hurt. My ego was bruised.

After a few minutes of trying to convince the other person that we are each right, it was clear that we weren’t going anywhere with this. The only thing we were succeeding in accomplishing was to sap each other’s energy, leaving us both feeling bad.

At one point, I vividly recalled thinking to myself, “didn’t I just write an article about when couples fight a few weeks ago? It’s pointless to try to convince him that I am right. Let’s be conscious about this, drop wanting to be right, and just apologize.”, and then I felt my mind quickly reply with, “No! He’s wrong! I’m right! How can he be so mean to me?”

True story. :)

And then it happened: I tucked my tail between my legs, sucked up my pride, and apologized.

Those first few words of “I……aaaaam…. Soooooo-rrie” was SO HARD to say. I could literally feel the tension in my egoic mind, resisting to apologize, to admit wrong-doing. But once those first few words were out, the rest became easier and easier.

I’m sorry for losing my patience babes. I was trying to help, and I felt that you weren’t listening to me.” I finally said.

I looked up at Jeremy, and saw large watery blue eyes staring back at me. His glance softened from a few minutes ago. He reached over and gave me a sort of “mechanical” hug—still a little bit mad at me.

I held on to his large body, and said, “I’m sorry babies. I didn’t mean to. You were right. It’s just that my ego is hurt, and it’s trying to defend myself by making you wrong.

Just as I said that, I felt his arms move from dangling from the side of his body (because he’s mad) to being wrapped around my back—okay good, it means he’s not mad anymore.

I’m sorry too.” He said.

For what?” I replied with a smirk on my face, tilting my head to look up at him, still in an embrace.

For not throwing you out the window.” He said with an equally playful smirk on his face.

I squeezed him and said, “No, seriously. For what?”

Then he proceeded to say, one by one, what he felt bad for. And when he got to three things after probes of “what else?” from me, he smiled back at me and said, “You only get three today.” I smiled. We continued hugging, and then went downstairs for dinner.

That was the end of it.

No hard feelings. No emotions lingering. We were happy and peaceful again.

Creating a Healthy Relationship

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship off the bat. There are couples who seem very compatible, but every relationship (even non-romantic ones) requires a conscious effort of kindness, forgiveness and mutual support.

Every relationship requires some maintenance work—and conflicts do happen, it’s okay.

No matter who you spent time with—even best-friends and co-workers— there will come a time when a small disagreement will spark. It’s inevitable when humans are added to the equation.

Most fights and conflicts between people seem to start off small, usually over something stupid, and often over misunderstandings.

But in trying to justify that we are right, we hurt each other’s egos, and then the small seed of conflict snowballs into something bigger, resulting in resentment and separation.

It happens to us all. I am no different. You are no different.

The only real solution to resolving these conflicts and in creating a healthy relationship is to recognize your own mistakes and apologize, despite it being a really hard thing to do when your ego is hurt.

It makes sense, right? You can fight until you are both blue in the face, and nothing will get resolved except more hurt feelings.

It’s only when one person stops wanting to fight and starts admitting their own mistakes, will the situation starts to take a turn in the opposite direction.

The words “I’m sorry” or “You are right” plus a physical hug will perform miracles in clearing the clouds of anger between two people. But it is an important step in clearing out the resentment energy and to start building peace. You do want peace, right?

A word about saying “I’m sorry”: you have to first dig within, recognize what you are sorry for, and then saying it genuinely. If you don’t mean it, you might as well not say it.

The earlier you can confront the problem, apologize, and openly talk it over, the better. If you want a peaceful, healthy and lasting relationship, this is what you must do.

Holding on to grudges and spending all your energy looking for faults in the other person will lead to devastating breakups, not healthy relationships. The choice is up to you. Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?

Catch the egos in action. Nip the misunderstanding while it’s early. Don’t wait for the resentment to turn into grievances.

So next time you’re faced with a conflict, a disagreement, a fight, or an uncomfortable silent treatment with a significant other or a friend, remember what I shared here––see what you did wrong and say sorry — no matter how justified you feel or how hurt you are from the other person’s self-defensive verbal attacks.

Parting Words: The Secret to a Healthy Relationship

In case you were still looking for the secret in building a healthy relationship, let me summarize it here:

  • Say you’re sorry and mean it
  • Hugs are magical when couples are fighting
  • Deal with issues as early as possible
  • Open communication – without trying to be right
  • Stop wanting to be right
  • Listen more, argue less
  • Breath – helps you to think more clearly
  • Seek to understand instead of listening for points to argue on
  • Don’t go to bed angry
  • Sense of humor makes uncomfortable moments more comfortable
  • Look for things that make you happy instead of things that don’t
  • It doesn’t matter if they can’t see your point of view. Do you rather be right or do you rather be happy? Focus your energy accordingly.
  • Say you’re sorry and why, and mean what you say (second time listing this) – It’s important.

I wish you success in the creation of your own healthy relationship! Let us know how it goes in the comment section below. Or anything else you want to share.

Have a conscious day!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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11 thoughts on Secret to a Healthy Relationship

  1. Hi Tina,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It really helps to drive home the point you are trying to make. Saying sorry and admitting mistakes in an argument is never easy. But the moment you apologise and mean it, it goes some way in defusing the tension in an argument. The other party loses part or all of their reason for being angry because you have already acknowledged your mistake. Their moral high ground is shaken and will soon crumble if they continue to persist because now they look unreasonable.

    After saying sorry, there is still work to be done. The issues that caused the problem need to be resolved in a proper manner so that a repeat will not happen again. It always helps to focus on the solution here and the results we want. By doing so, we detach from our egos and find discuss ways to prevent ourselves from acting the way we did which brought about the quarrel. If we can do this in an objective manner, it will do wonders to make our relationships healthy.

    Thank you for sharing this article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  2. Great post and a good reminder for any type of relationship. Earlier this week my hubby and I fought about the post office. It was late at night and I revealed I sent his $1,200 item (something we sold on EBay) to the customer without properly taping the label on. Also, I revealed that the 24 hour post office not only did not have tape (I had to tear up little bits of label and use that) they did not have the padded envelope he pre-paid for when he paid the postage online. He freaked out (had every reason too—I mean, $1,200). If I had walked out and not mailed the package the customer would not have had the item when he needed it (Monday). When the package arrived safely and was paid for the subject was dropped. There was no hugging during that fight but I *forgot* to apologize after. Now I’m taking my own tape to the post office in the future! :)

  3. Hi Tina, great post as usual! But really appreciate you being open and honest about your real life. It’s helps so much to connect and feels good to know you are not the only person struggling with certain things. You have great insights and enjoy your comments on Facebook too! They always seem to get some interesting conversations and commenting started. Cheers!

  4. Great post Tina…..reminds me of the fact that kindness matters…..because consideration and the art of considering others first, does as much for the consider-er than the considered – considerably.

  5. Hi Tina,

    great article, I think so often it just takes one person to pull in their tail. In german we have a saying ‘the smarter one gives in’. I had a very similar situation at work: a colleague left and we have to pick up his workload. I subconciously had held my boss responsible for making us work so hard and my attitude strained our relationship. when i was able to give in mentally i could see that he s working as hard as us and and is really trying his best.
    Tina, I know you must be very busy but I would really appreciate 1 or 2 sentences of feedback on my blog. I am new to blogging and your opinion (positive OR negative) would help. my site is called please leave a comment if you get a chance.

  6. Whew. A load of lessons on humility and how it would make relationships become better. Yes, Tina. Most of us would feel your struggle with saying the first few words of apology. Wasn’t that hit a Dad sang based on this? Sorry seem to be the hardest word or something like that. Anyways, it seemed very difficult at first but once we truly appreciate its impact, it becomes so much better. What’s best, however, is if we let everything out. Like say what we’re sorry about. So instead of just apologizing for hurting their feelings, it should be said like, “I’m really sorry for hurting your feelings and letting you down. I know how you planned the event and it was inconsiderate of me to not come.” The one hearing us out would like that we’re actually apologizing for specific “wrongs” and that we acknowledge where we were wrong, right? Because definitely, I’d like to hear it all out and not just the lame, “I’m sorry, OK? Are we done now?”

  7. La Enchantee

    Wonderful post. This reminds me that sensitivity is important because when you think about the feelings of others helps each of us, both the one who has to and the wone who needs. In essence they both need.

  8. Hi Tina,

    Another great article. I especially think ‘Deal with issues as early as possible’ is so important. We men (sorry guys!) are great at letting things simmer because ( not all men!) we don’t know how to express or communicate what we are feeling . So i guess i’d add “i feel…….” to the list , to help communication along , when it gets tough.

  9. hi tina
    so grate of u to share ur secret with us and trust in god and
    everything will b fine u r a very brave girl

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    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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