An established set of boundaries and expectations.
Here we want to be sure that each person in the relationship understands what is expected of them so they know whether or not they want to participate in that relationship. Proper boundaries secured around these issues can set the foundation of many wonderful years to come.
In a sibling relationship, an expectation could be that the older sibling has seniority over the younger sibling when they are kids. As those siblings age, that expectation may naturally change so that both siblings carry the same amount of clout in a decision. If one sibling is aware of the change but the other is not, that could lead to conflict if a major family decision has to be made.
In a friend relationship, a boundary could be that we do not discuss our parenting styles with each other, especially if they differ. In that same relationship, an expectation could be that although we set a date for lunch, if something happens with one of our kids and we have to cancel, there are no hard feelings and we have to be flexible. You would be surprised at how many of us get personally insulted when someone cancels on us, even if it is for a good reason. Discussing the meaning behind any cancellations can save both of you much resentment and heartache over time.
In a parent/child relationship, a boundary could be that when either the child's or parent's bedroom door is closed, there is an understanding that the individual does not want to be disturbed unless there is an emergency. An expectation in that same relationship could be that once the child is of driving age, they are expected to maintain certain grades in order to have use of a car.
In a marital relationship, a boundary might be that it is not acceptable to have a meal with a co-worker of the opposite sex; while an expectation in that same relationship might be that if this has to occur for some unique reason, that the other partner will be notified prior to the meal.
Insecurities of all kinds can come to the surface in meaningful relationships. Clear boundaries and expectations are a must in keeping those to a minimum. Be sure to notify the other person if you want to or need to change these boundaries and expectations. The next relationship quality will help you to be successful in following through on that.
#2 A communication style that works, including conflict resolution guidelines. In relationships, some individuals like to talk about what is wrong and address it, while others like to work through the issues on their own. Some value words as the most important thing, while others value actions. In your important relationships, what do you value and what does the other person value? Don't be afraid to ask what is most important if you are unsure.
When resolving conflict in a relationship, understanding what is valued by each can help you to approach problems more easily. If you both value words, then set aside a time to discuss a conflict when you can both be fully present in the conversation. Identify the issue that needs to be resolved; come up with options for solving the problem; implement one or two of the options; VERY IMPORTANT - Evaluate the options after an appropriate time has passed. If the problem is solved, excellent. If not, then just choose another option for solving the problem and try again. Keep evaluating until you find the answer. This scenario works no matter which type of relationship it is. The key is to listen to each other and work on understanding where the other person is coming from.
Making communication about the positives in the relationship and not just the negatives can also create a new desire to talk, as you may actually get a compliment or be told that you are doing some things well. That always feels good. I encourage all couples and families to regularly share the best part of their day with each other and ask what they can do for each other to make tomorrow just a little bit better. Positivity breeds positivity.
Please keep a look out for next month's newsletter that identifies 4 more Qualities of a Good Relationship.