The 10 Unique Elements of Healthy Couples’ Relationships

April 10, 2019 |Gideon Hanekom

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The focus of this post is the important question of what do relationships of healthy couples look like?

Most of us have a need to love and be loved. It’s a basic human need.

However, many also don’t know how to go about getting and giving love and a healthy way.

Because we usually learn how to go about this through modelling. We “copy” the examples we grew up with.

But, again, many of us grew up in homes where loving and being loved was not modelled very well.

So how do we know what a really strong and healthy relationship with a partner would look like?

The answer lies in modelling a different example from our childhood – relationships of healthy couples.

healthy couples

The concept of “modelling” is very powerful and helpful.

It’s the idea that for any result we want, there’s already someone in the world who has achieved that same thing.

We don’t have to figure everything out on our own or guess how to succeed in achieving or creating similar results.

All we have to do it find examples of people who have already achieved the same result we want, study them, and replicate (model) what they’ve done in our own situation and context.

When we do that, chances are very high that we’ll achieve a similar result.

So, for the purpose of creating a strong and healthy relationship, the question becomes,

What do relationships of healthy couples look like and how do they create them?

One way is to find healthy couples who are creating and experiencing this type of relationship and watch them.

Another way is to read about the characteristics of healthy couples that are important – and even crucial – to developing a healthy, happy, and intimate relationship.

Like this post.

Now, as you read through the characteristics of good relationships of healthy couples, I would encourage you to focus on one or two habits to start with.

Implement them in your relationship for as long as it takes to make sure they become a habit before adding more.

Here are some of the characteristics of good relationships of healthy couples:

1. Healthy couples don’t confuse sex and love.

While sex is important to a love relationship (see # 10), it is but one trait and not the whole thing.

Sex on its own doesn’t say much.

Great sex requires deep trust in the person who shares your bed.

Respect and love require trust in the individual.

Sex, respect, love and trust are necessary for a great relationship.

No matter how you slice it they are all intertwined and must be addressed together.

So, to ensure you both express your emotional love in a healthy fashion, sex must be a priority, but it is by no means the only expression of love between two healthy people.

Healthy couples work hard on maintaining love, trust, respect AND sex.

2. Healthy couples express themselves to each other in a graceful and non-threatening way.

It is easy to blow up, get angry and say things you don’t mean.

ANYONE can do that.

What’s difficult is controlling yourself when upset and still treating your partner with grace and kindness.

THAT is difficult and probably why so many fail at it.

But not healthy couples.

They understand the power of grace and kindness even when upset or stressed.

It’s important that you stay in control of your feelings, anger and emotions.

Because getting angry and speaking out will only damage your relationship over time until it finally falls apart.

3. Healthy couples put the needs and desires of their partner first and their own second.

The ancient teacher and Jewish Rabbi, Yeshua, once taught that those who want to be great, need to learn how to serve.

The world-renowned life coach, Tony Robbins, also teaches that love relationships are a place to come to give (first) rather than get.

When we manage to do that love seems to flow effortlessly.

When both partners put the needs and desires of their partner first and their own second, it ensures that BOTH partners experience the same love, mutual respect and care that the other is receiving.

Healthy couples understand this and, therefore, have it as an unwritten but non-negotiable rule in their relationship.

This leads on to the next point …

4. Healthy couples see themselves as a team in life.

They work together to achieve mutual goals as well as support each other in their individual goals.

There is no “me versus you” – just “us versus the world.”

And healthy couples that see themselves as a team typically display these characteristics:

  • Commitment (to the team) – their allegiance is to each other and the wellbeing of their relationship. They make sure to create a space in which each partner feels safe and secure.
  • Responsibility for self – each partner understands that they are responsible for their own personal happiness, health and well-being. They never make this the responsibility of their partner.
  • Think and act positively – any healthy relationship has an overall sense of happiness and positivity, which is only possible when a couple thinks and acts positively for the most part.
  • Serve the team – healthy couples always look out for the best interest of their relationship. Every decision they make considers the possible effect(s) it will have on the wellbeing of the partnership.
  • Show appreciation – when we feel valued and appreciated in a relationship, we tend to give more of ourselves to that relationship. Healthy couples show constant appreciation for each other in the smallest of ways.
  • Work through disagreements as a team – healthy couples understand that disagreements are part and parcel of life. But they also know that HOW we deal with those disagreements are infinitely more important than the fact that we have them. So, they attack problems, issues, and disagreement as a team, i.e. “us versus it.”

And leading on from that last point …

5. Healthy couples don’t let problems or disagreements simmer between them.

When there is a disagreement they address it transparently and authentically, always working towards a compromise that they both can live with.

They understand that if you want a healthy, happy, and intimate relationship, it is almost always a matter of giving and taking.

Not just “take take take.”

That NEVER works.

Unless you love being single.

Then it’s all about you.

Not so in a healthy relationship.

Healthy couples leave competition (me versus you) outside their relationship, as it serves no purpose to the betterment or wellbeing of that relationship.

And the only way a couple can know WHAT their partner wants, in order to compromise, is when they model healthy couples in understanding that …

6. Healthy couples have learned to listen to each other.

Although hearing and listening sound like the same thing, they are NOT.

I wrote a whole post on this recently.

When you hear someone speaking you hear the sounds but not necessarily the intent behind their words.

But when you’re truly listening, you actually hear their words and the meaning behind them.

And you can only really respond to your partner effectively when you’ve truly listened and really understood them.

Too many couples listen to respond rather than listen to truly understand.

The latter will make all the difference in your love relationship whereas the former will only cause more misunderstanding, disagreement, and frustration.

7. Healthy couples work hard to maintain the romance between them.

It’s genuinely fascinating to see how many couples want healthy relationships but they hardly spend any quality time working on creating a romance between them.

And I get kids, responsibilities, clients, hobbies, friends, family etc.

Most people have that.

It’s no excuse however to let romance slip by the wayside.

If you want a better quality of a relationship, you simply need to learn from healthy couples and make romance a priority.

They frequently spend quality time alone with each other and work to grow their relationship without putting the relationship behind the children and work.

And part of that reason why they do that is that …

8. Healthy couples stay on the same team.

They understand that every relationship has its ups and downs but they are committed to each other and to stay strong and healthy together.

They stay turned towards each other, even when outside pressures mount.

They stay connected, or at least, work hard to stay connected.

They stay on the same team even when the team is under attack.

They also understand that “us” comes first, then everything and everyone else – the kids included.

You are no good to your kids when you as a couple (mum and dad) are struggling and suffering.

Taking care of yourselves first is the best strategy to take care of them.

It’s the whole oxygen mask in a plane idea.

Put yours on first before helping those around you.

Because when you’re good, it’s so much easier to take care of others around you.

This leads to the next point …

9. Healthy couples realise they are responsible for themselves and their own happiness.

They do not depend on their partner for their happiness and joy in life.

This is such a huge point, I need you to read that again.


Please understand that.

You will save yourself so much heartache and disappointment when you let that idea go.

YOU need to take care of your own mental and physical well-being.

Can your partner support you in that?

Of course! But at the end of the day, if it is to be it is up to ME.

Healthy couples are healthy because they make a huge effort to become happy in themselves while feeding that happiness into the marriage or relationship.

But they are not dependent or reliant on the relationship to make them feel whole, good about themselves, and happy.

Lastly …

10. Healthy couples make sex a priority.

Sex for healthy couples is mutually satisfying and both partners are willing to satisfy their partner as long as it isn’t outside their comfort zone.

When we are sexually satisfied in our relationships, and we know we are satisfying our partners, it has a huge impact on the wellbeing of the relationship.

That’s especially true for men.

Also, because sex is a priority for healthy couples, they don’t always rely on “being in the mood” to “get it on.”

Scheduling regular sex is a very common and healthy practise for many couples.

The unfortunate reality of life is that unless we 1) prioritise and 2) make time for certain things, they simply won’t happen.

Life will get in the way.

But sexual intimacy cannot become one of the things we simple chuck on the pile of unimportant things.

Sex plays a hugely important role in creating and communicating deeper levels of intimacy and connection.

That doesn’t mean we’re behaving like newlyweds, because dirty diapers and sleepless nights will definitely screw that up for you, but it also doesn’t mean we become little more than friends or roommates.

Sex is about intimacy, vulnerability, connection, love, playfulness, fun, and certainty.

We have to make time for it as most healthy couples do.

Questions for reflection:

  • Which characteristics of healthy couples spoke most to you?
  • Which one(s) needs most work in YOUR relationship at the moment?
  • What will you do about it?

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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