When we think about healthy relationships, immediately I think about what it takes to have a healthy body. Ask any doctor or take any blood test, and you will be given clear indicators of your health, or lack thereof. While all of us have different body shapes and blood types, there are specific universal factors (i.e., heart rate, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) that contribute to our overall health.
Similarly, no relationship is exactly the same because everyone has different personalities, needs, and love languages. However, beyond some of the obvious things like attraction, intimacy, and love, the following three characteristics are critical in building a solid foundation and sustaining just about any healthy relationship.
The Three C's Of A Healthy & Happy Relationship
As one of the three most important relationship characteristics, communication may sound obvious, but you may be surprised to know how many people aren't able to adequately articulate their thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Communication isn't just the key, in fact, how you communicate is just as critical. Additionally, you have to be willing to listen as much as, or more than, you talk.
When my husband and I first got married, we were communicating for sure, but we were not doing so in a way that was healthy or helpful for either of us. From hitting below the belt and yelling at each other to ignoring each other and walking out or running away from the conversation, you would've thought we were on an episode of Love & Hip Hop.
Not only was the way we communicated unhealthy, it was also unproductive.
That's not to say that you won't have heated discussions or arguments in a relationship, because everyone has their issues. However, it's critical to find better ways to communicate effectively if you want to make it through the ups and downs.
Commitment is yet another healthy relationship characteristic. And I'm not just talking about going from dating to being in an exclusive relationship, or getting engaged, or even getting married. I'm also not implying that you should stay through any and everything merely for the sake of being in a relationship.
Rather, when I say commitment, what I am referring to is being committed to staying together even:
- On the days when it doesn't feel like the fairytale you imagined,
- When people can't see the petty arguments behind the pretty pictures posted on the 'gram,
- When the so-called 'newlywed season' wears off,
- When the "worst" comes before the "better" after you get married, or
- When you experience growing pains or difficult seasons.
It's choosing to fight more for each other than against each other. Basically, the same fervor and fortitude that went into making it down the aisle, should be multiplied when it comes to making the marriage last. Anybody can be in a relationship, but it takes that much more to stay in a relationship.
Candor is simply another word for honesty and sincerity. It unlocks the doors to vulnerability, intimacy, and trust...the major components that separate dating and courting from genuine, exclusive love. It's the place where you can be you without judgment, and you can be your most vulnerable self. I've never felt more comfortable to be me than until I met and married my husband.
Candor also allows couples to have the tough, yet necessary, conversations regardless of how difficult they may be. When people say, "Oh, we don't have disagreements or we never argue," that usually means to me that someone isn't being honest with themselves and/or they're not being honest with their significant other. Yes, you have to choose your battles because it's important not to "major in the minor" to prevent from turning molehills into mountains. However, toxic things like bitterness and resentment often reside where frustration and unresolved issues linger.
There have been times when, unfortunately, I've witnessed situations where people were more honest and upfront about their marital issues with other people than their spouses; which usually and unfortunately led to bigger issues including infidelity. But that's where candor comes…it helps eliminate the need for anyone to feel as if they can't be completely honest with their partner.
Furthermore, openness and vulnerability often initiate the journey towards healing whether it's for the individual or to help resolve an issue within the relationship. As with most things in our lives, healing usually begins when we first admit that there's an issue. When that doesn't happen, how, then, can the healing begin or how can you rectify a situation if you're not willing to be 100% open with each other? Not to mention, if I'm not aware of something, then how can I begin to work on it or help you work through it?
At the end of the day, if you can't be vulnerable with the person you spend the most time with, then who can you be open with? Although it takes time because many of us build emotional walls and being vulnerable can feel uncomfortable, nobody should know you better than your partner knows you.
Although this list isn't exhaustive, rest assured that these three healthy relationship characteristics––communication, commitment, and candor––will definitely set you up for success for a happy, healthy and loving relationship.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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