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Helping Couples Find Their Way
Hands Holding Plant

A Butterfly: Profile of a Healthy Couple's Relationship (Ideally)

Your relationship is like a butterfly -- very delicate.  It needs a lot of care to survive.  And it is so much work!  This is true of straight relationships, lesbian relationships, and gay relationships.  Any time men and women attempt relational intimacy, it is like holding a butterfly.

I have now worked with more than 900 couples -- the vast majority straight, though also many same sex.  Either way, there are fundamental principles that must be considered.

During my many years working with couples, I came up with a list of what I see as the 16 essentials for a healthy couple relationship.  I worked hard at distilling the question: "What makes for the healthy couple, the pair that really knows how to find courage, joy, and support in one another?"

Here is the list.  And, if you see me, this list will form the basis of our work together.  I will coach you on how to develop these skills, and hold you accountable for trying.  There's no way around it.  You just "have to do the work."

Will every couple pull off all 16 essentials consistently?  No.  That's way too ideal.  Can all couples work at each of these 16 critical skills?  Yes.  Absolutely.  And, then, each day in the relationship will be a better day.

Roger Ballou

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.”