Every relationship must have certain elements to be successful. These elements are good communication, respect, trust, fairness and appreciation, acceptance, companionship, and a bond. This applies in every relationship--intimate, parent-child, sibling, work, team, etc. However, the nature of the elements depends on the type of relationship. For example, an intimate relationship would include affection, love, and intimacy. Whereas a work relationship may involve a more general bond or, sometimes, friendship. [Of course, sometimes intimate relationships begin at work, as well.] If a relationship is missing any one of these factors, the relationship may be troubled. If two or more factors are poor the relationship is likely to be strained.
Good communication involves the ability to share thoughts and feelings and have them acknowledged and the reaching of a mutual understanding or agreement. Although there are gender-related differences, both individuals in a relationship want to be heard. Disagreements and conflicts in themselves are not a problem; rather, it is how these are discussed and resolved that have lasting effects on the relationship.
The nature of life and relationships is such that, sooner or later, a problem will arise. How each situation is dealt with is significant. If the two or more (family, team mates, coworkers, etc) individuals engage in arguing, yelling, swearing, and the like and/or if one or more individuals engages in generalizations or globalizations ("you always", "you never", "how many times have I .....?", "I hate you!"", etc) conflicts tend not to be resolved effectively and in a mutually satisfying manner. Moreover, each poorly resolved or unresolved situation can have a cumulative, damaging effect on the relationship.
Respect is an integral part of good communication. However, it is also more generally important in that each individual should feel appreciated and supported by the other(s) in the relationship. Respect is an attitude that is actively shown to each other. Trust is a feeling that develops implicitly from one"s interactions. Trust involves knowing that the other person(s) can be relied on, that you will not be betrayed, humiliated, or hurt in any way.
A sense of fairness or equality plays a role, as well. This feeling tends to be very subjective and is often a major source of conflict. Each individual needs to feel that he or she is treated fairly; that he or she is not "getting the raw end of the deal." If any individual feels that he or she is doing too much, has too much responsibility, that the other individual is lazy, selfish, uncaring, or irresponsible, and so on, there will be growing resentment and conflict.
Acceptance (or tolerance) is crucial in a relationship. Each individual has his or her own beliefs, preferences, bias, and quirks. These include religion, musical tastes, food preferences, style and appearance choices, hobbies, ways of coping, emotional reactions, mannerisms, and more. Each individual may or may not be willing or able to change any of these. When this is true, the other individual(s) must be able to accept, or even tolerate, the other person"s idiosyncracies. If a habit or choice is "part of who the person is" then one has to learn to "live with it"", or reach a compromise. Otherwise, conflict will keep arising. In other words, there is no point in getting angry or distressed by something that the other person cannot or will not change. Of course, in a parent-child relationship, parents have considerable influence over a child"s behavior. However, sometimes a child (or especially a teenager) may have a strongly held preference that, as long as it is not unhealthy or dangerous, may have to be accepted. Between adults, other than ending the relationship, there is no other way to resolve such differences.
Companionship, or "quality time"", involves having fun together. At work, for example, this may involve sharing jokes, celebrating birthdays, socializing, etc. At home, in addition to the above, companionship would include family time, romantic evenings, vacations, etc. To the extent that responsibilities and resources, such as time and money permit, the more quality time spent together the better. But remember, fun does not have to be expensive.
All of the other factors determine the strength of the bond that develops between the individuals involved. The better the communication, the stronger the respect and trust, the greater the acceptance, support, and perceived fairness, the more fun experiences shared together, the stronger will be the bond and the better will be the relationship.
If your relationship with your partner or spouse or any family member or group member (co-worker, teammate, etc) is weak in any of the above areas, I can help.