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Helping Couples Find Their Way
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16 Essentials for a Healthy Couple Relationship

Should see me for couple counseling, these are the 16 essential skills upon which we will focus.  After working with more than 900 couples during the past 15 years, I conclude that, from my vantage point, these are the 16 most critical ways by which the partners contribute to making their relationship healthy and vibrant.

One of the first exercises we'll do together is go through this list, one skill at a time, and see how you're doing.  With nearly every couple I see, it is typically a mix of their doing some of these well, and others "not so well."  We'll seek to have you emphasize your strengths and at the same find ways to improve those areas where you don't function as you should.

The 16 Essentials for Healthy Couple Relationship

1. I am radically honest with my partner.

2. I work to spend at least 15 hours each week giving my partner my undivided attention.  This includes affection, conversation, sexual fulfillment, and recreational companionship.

3. I consistently listen deeply to my partner.

4. I consult with my partner on any matters that affect him or her and/or our relationship, no matter how minor or small I consider them to be.

5. I allow myself to be influenced by my partner, trusting that he or she has my best interests at heart.

6. I neither control my partner nor tell him or her what to do.

7. Following the Adlerian principle “You can have harmony only among equals”, I share the load in our relationship in terms of what needs to get done.

8. I work to meet my partner’s love language needs.  See www.5lovelanguages.com

9. I am clear and direct in expressing to my partner all my emotions including my anger and my hurts.

10. I speak respectfully to my partner and avoid sarcasm.

11.  I hang in there when my partner sticks up for himself or herself.

12. I regularly express deep appreciation and gratitude to my partner for the many good things he or she does.

13.  I work with my partner to co-create a vision for our future.

14.  I take good care of myself physically and emotionally so that I can really be there for my partner.

15.  I use alcohol (or other substances such as marijuana) in moderation or not at all, knowing that alcohol and drugs impair my ability to function in a committed relationship.

16.  I take full responsibility for myself, knowing that, as Adler said, “Most times in life, you get what you behave for.”


Roger A. Ballou, PhD, LMFT, Diplomate in Adlerian Psychology