What is a Solid Relationship Foundation?

It doesn’t matter if a relationship is struggling with communication, sex, passion, or anything else. No matter what issue a relationship is dealing with, the relationship needs to have a solid relationship foundation. However, in order to build this foundation, you need to know what it is.

There are a lot of foundational elements to relationships. I find the Gottman Institute’s Sound Relationship House to be a good roadmap for identifying what is in a solid relationship. When I’m working with people in couples or relationship therapy, I turn their attention back to these important elements so that there is some concrete stuff to work on.

Although there are a lot of complex elements, the following list includes the elements that I believe are the most critical to building a solid foundation. If you don’t have these things in your relationship, you’re not likely going to improve things at all.

  1. Trust
  2. Commitment
  3. Appreciating each other
  4. Ending resentment
  5. Being vulnerable and sharing
  6. Communicating fairly

Without Trust, You Just Have Rubble

People often try to fix a relationship by focusing on the problems, but they don’t start with the first (and maybe most important) aspect of a committed relationship. If you don’t have trust, you can’t build anything. Trust is the foundational boards of a relationship.

People often oversimplify trust to mean 2 things.

  • I’m not getting physically abused.
  • I’m not getting cheated on.

Obviously, when either of these boundaries are crossed, trust is extremely fractured.

The absence of trust won’t build a trust foundation in your relationship.
You have to figure out what gestures increase trust for you. It’s like a bank that increases with small deposits and the currency is small meaningful gestures. However, you have to identify what these gestures are because you’re the one who assigns them meaning.

Is This Relationship One that You Really Want?

Unfortunately, a lot of people come to relationship therapy hoping that it will make them want the relationship. Others are often just coasting along. It comes down to you. You have to decide whether you’re committing to the relationship you’re in. This requires work, effort, and a willingness to change. That means it also requires vulnerability. Without these things, there will be no new foundation to build on and you’re not likely to notice any changes.

Appreciating Each Other

People often hold a lot of resentment. After being with someone for a long time, these resentments can overshadow what you appreciate. One of the things that you have to be willing to do is appreciate your partner. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any problems. However, if you don’t get to a place where you can appreciate things about your relationship, your perspective isn’t likely to change. If it doesn’t change, your relationship won’t improve.

Taking Mindful Chances and Opening Up

I’ve seen so many people over the years who want their relationship to change, but don’t want to chance hurting the other person by sharing. Some also don’t want to try anything new. If you want to make changes in your relationship, you have to be willing to take risks. Some of them WILL fail! Others will give you opportunities to connect.

Communicating with Balance

Communication is often thought of as talking rather than listening. Most of us struggle with listening and understanding. When relationships struggle with a level of belligerence, it often means that you’re not taking time to hear each other. Shifting this communication dynamic is critical to building a foundation for deeper skills.

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