Introduction:
I believe that there are two dimensions to manís life the first one is that human being wants to be unique and the other one is being a sociable creature. To understand the relationship between these two dimensions an analogy will be illustrative: think of the individual and his uniqueness as a piece of jigsaw puzzle. In this example whole jigsaw puzzle is the society and the relationship that the piece has with the rest of jigsaw puzzle is the social dimension of the individual.

I want to explore the second dimension i.e. man as social creature. As you know human being are born that way. If you have had this wonderful opportunity to see a birth of baby, you probably have realized that when a baby is born, he begins to cry as though he is asking to be cleaned, hugged, fed and sheltered. As soon as he is placed on his momís chest he tends to quiet down apparently recognizing that he is again close to another human being -may be he is hearing his momís heart beat once again and feels secure.

I do not have to convince you that no human newborn can survive without help, support and protection of other human beings- do not believe in those throw away magazine claiming that a human baby was found in jungle raised by bears, monkeys etc.!

I believe of human relationship as the most precious and rewarding experience in human life. It is also as the most rewarding investment in life. No wonder it should be kept and revered as much as possible and severed only if all the effort to maintain it fails.

The impact of relationship on self-esteem is remarkable. It can lower the self-esteem or it can enhance it. I strongly believe that people have great impact on each otherís self-esteem. I think that having a healthy self-esteem in relationship is highly dependent on the state of the relationship Ė the healthier the relationship the higher the chance of improving the self-esteem of the individuals in that relationship. I also think that self-esteem affect relationship: if someoneís self-esteem goes up and down, this change will affect his relationship with other people. In fact it may change his network of people with whom he associates depending on what his self-esteem is, or in what direction is moving i.e. up or down.

Cardinal Characteristics of Healthy Relationship:

There are two cardinal characteristics that we can see in any healthy enduring relationship: first one is that the relationship is joyful and the second one is that it is productive and constructive. The first feature keeps us happy today and the second one helps us to reach our dreams and goals that are consistent with our visions. As we see the second characteristics helps us maintain the joy on long term basis.

Two Analogies:
A- Relationship : a Garden

I believe that human relationship is like a garden and the partners in relationship are the gardeners. The relationship gets better if the gardener continue to work on making the garden better. A garden may be mediocre and then through the effort of the partner the garden gets better by taking the weeds out, placing more beautiful and attractive plants and flowers in it and water and feed it appropriately and on continuous basis. No wonder if ignore the garden will loose its beauty if it is ignored by the gardeners. It should be emphasized the task of taking care of relationship is so time consuming and horrendous that it is almost impossible to keep a relationship when only one side is working on it and the other side gives up putting effort on it for any reason.

B- Relatinship : A suspension Bridge
The other analogy that I use to describe a relationship is the suspension bridge in which the truss in the relationship and the piers(pillars) are the participants in the relationship carrying the weight of the relationship. It is no wonder that suspension bridge would stand only if piers on both side stay intact capable of carrying the load. Any defect on one or both sides will hurt the relationship.

I also believe that if people in relationship have personal problem affecting the bridge (relationship) then they should give priority on working on themselves before moving on strengthening the truss although in some case you can work on piers and truss simultaneously if problem with piers are not radical

Twenty Ėthree Characteristics of Healthy Relationship:

There are twenty-threes characteristics that are working in any relationship. They are as follows:

1-honesty is the transparency that the individual manifests in his life. An honest person is like pond with clear water in which you can see the content. An honest person also has consistency between what his thoughts, behaviors, feelings and relationship.

We tend to call a person who does not lie deliberately as honest, however, if someone reports his feelings falsely we tend not to label them as dishonest. In my opinion anybody who deliberately distorts reporting his feelings is dishonest in that compartment although he may be honest in other aspect of his life.

Assignment:
Give us five incidents that you showed dishonesty to other side and tell us how you want to change to be honest with your partner if you are under similar circumstances in future.

2.trust:
the trust is a state of mind at which individual feels and secure that he not only would not be hurt but he would be protected and helped by the other side if needed. There are four elements that will determine the degree of trust that people have in each other. They are as follows:

a-honesty: see the above for description

b- reliability: this characteristic helps the individual to depend on each other. Reliable person is an individual that walks his talks and has consistently fulfills his promises ex: I will be in front of movie theater at 6:30 PM and he surely will there at the promised time.

a- He has the power to hurt the other side, however he does not use this power against the other side in the relationship.

Example: he knows lot of secrets about you, and by revealing those secrets it will be damaging to you, however, he will not do it. d: he has the power to help and he uses that power to do so.

Example: you are in need of financial assistance and he is the man who is doing well financially capable of providing help to you and he offers help to you.

Assignment: Give five things that have eroded the trust between you and your partner and how you want to bring the trust back in each situation.

3-fairness. Is a characteristics that helps the person not to subject the other side to any situation that he himself does not want the other side or any other person puts him in. one the best way to check to see if you are fair to other side is to exchange your side with the other side and see if you think if other side as the result of this exchange he has treated you well.

Assignment: Give us five incidents you were fair with the other side and five other example that you were not, then tell us how you will handle those unfair situations with him in future.

4-sharing: One of the greatest assets that human beings have is their ability to share resources with each other. As you know, this character is not unique to human beings it can be in many animals including ants, squirrels monkeys etc.

Sharing is a character by which individuals share whatever assets and liabilities they have with each other. A mother may share his pain separation from his son who has gone to war with the daughter in law. A young woman in relationship may share the romantic encounters with her closest girlfriend.

Through sharing your sorrows with other people going through that becomes less painful. And by sharing your happy times with your friends and family, they can benefit from that joy by having a share in their own way.

It is hard to imagine that you can have deep-rooted relationship with somebody without sharing your joys and sorrows him.

Assignment: Give us five things you can share with your wife. Those things can be emotionally pleasant and/or painful.

5-caring: How awful and boring would life be if we did not have people around us who did not care about us. Caring is that character in the individual to not only be concerned about things that may hurt to other side but is also tries or at least offer help to alleviate or reduce the pain that has or will hurt the individual. Someone who cares about others will not deliberately hurt them. Living in a caring environment gives the individual a sense of security. It is a wonderful feeling to know that if you are in trouble you have people who will be available to offer him so me help and sympathy.

Assignment: Give us ten ways you have shown your care to other side and three other ways that you can show your care to him in future.

6- commitment: Commitment is essentially acceptance of restrictions, obligations, sacrifices, and keeping the promise of following certain socially accepted norms and rules in relationship.

Let me give you an example to clarify my point of view:
John is a married man. He has recently noticed that a beautiful newly divorced colleague is getting close to him and treats him in rather special manner quite different from the way she treats other male colleagues. This lady is educated, relatively rich and very influential in the company as well.

His index of suspicion got higher when in one of the professional retreats organized by the company, she invited her to her room in the hotel and he noted lying down in her body wearing very transparent clothes showing her gorgeous body curvatures. Noticing that sort of setting he politely left the room and asked her to see each other somewhere in the lobby and talk about bushiness related issues with her.

In the above example, although John clearly sees the opportunity he has to be romantic with this colleague, he looks at himself and his commitment to his wife of twenty years, and his three wonderful children he has from this relationship and comes to this conclusion, that getting romantic with this attractive seductive colleague is the clear violation of her promise to his wife.

Assignment: Show us three occasions that you showed your commitment to your relationship to other side. Remember in each case you need to show what opportunities you had but because of your commitment to relationship you somehow scarified something for keeping the relationship.

7-coopertaition. When two people join each other in relationship, there should be an understanding that they are not identical twins and as two unique individual they have differences and unless to cooperate with each other it would be almost impossible to achieve any goals together.

Cooperation can be defined as working with other side by showing flexibility, compromise and synergy.

Assignment: Find five ways you can show flexibility in your relationship with your partner and another five ways that you can show compromise.

8-creativity. Man is endowed with power of creativity. This asset is not seen in other creatures. Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas, inventions, innovations that can change the life, hopefully in positive way.

Creativity can bring new breath to the life of relationship. It can make relationship vibrant and exciting. Creativity is the enemy of monotony -that can seriously put the relationship in danger of falling apart.

Assignment: Find ten creative ways that will help your relationship not fall in the path of monotony and try to put five of them into action in a near future.

9-communication: There is no relationship without communication. In communication we exchange our ideas, thoughts, feeling, and even our behaviors with each other. Effective communication can enhance relationship and miscommunication and lack of communication can place the relationship in danger of falling apart.

Knowing how to communicate is essential to any relationship.

Assignments: Tell us ten areas in your relationship in which you have difficulty communicating with the other side and show us the ways you can use to improve your communication with him .

10- giving: Is the process one individual in relationship donates- i.e. gives something worthy to the other side without asking immediate reciprocation.. Giving in a healthy relationship provides security to the other side. He also shows to the other side that values the relationship and he proves it by his action and willingness to give precious things to the other side.

Assignment: give us five examples of giving in your relationship with your partner.

11- forgiving: There are many painful moments in relationship that cannot be forgotten mainly because the pain that one side has created for the other side. The pain puts the relationship in danger and unless the partners come to an amicable solution they will not be able to continue a quality relationship with each other.

If you have hurt your partner by your unfaithfulness and the other side forgives you, she essentially is asking no compensation for the damage. The damage could be materialistic, social, and psychological. It is implied that the person who has inflicted the damage promises not to repeat the same or similar damage in future.

Few things to remember forgiving does not mean that damage was (a) small (b) can be repeated in future.

If you want to forgive your partner, you must have the capacity to tolerate the pain which in some occasions it could be psychologically excruciating. One thing that helps you accept the pain is to make your best effort to understand the other side (see understanding)

Assignment: Tell us about an incident that the other side hurt you badly and then describe the ways you could forgive him better.

12-understanding: One of the salient characteristics of any individual is his ability to find out how the other side feels, thinks and behaves and relates to other people. In other words ,when you understand someone, you are aware of the other personís feelings, thoughts, and motivations etc.

One of the best ways to help you understand someone is to put yourself in his shoes and see how you would feel, think or act if you were him under those circumstances.

It is also equally important to help the other side to understand you .obviously you need to help the other side to be in your shoes . Remember that in any relationship it is vital that both sides understand each other.

Be courteous in relationship and try first to understand other side before you are asking him to understand you especially when you are dealing with a conflict in your relationship.

Assignment: give us five areas in which you and your partner have some misunderstanding and/or difficulty in understanding each other or the issue, and tell us how you want to work with your partner to make that issue understandable for each other.

13-accepatance: when you have this character you accept that the other side is not perfect, therefore you accept character flaws that you or other people see in him or her.

The more you increase your expectations from the other side, the more you will suffer from frustrations and disappointment in your relationship. High expectations set the stage for conflict and agony in relationship.

Be reasonable and accept that no human being is perfect and your partner is not an exception to this universal rule.

What are the deficits you see in your boyfriend and tell us how you want to convince yourself despite having those deficits your boyfriend is a worthy person to be with.

14-admitance: this character helps the other side understand that not only you are aware that you are not perfect but you accept it and inform the other side of your deficit(s). It is hard to be in a relationship when your partner has a hard time to admit to his pitfalls, potholes, shortcomings, weaknesses, failures, deficits etc. It takes lot of courage and sometimes bravery to admit to above negative points. It takes lot of courage and personal growth to admit to negative characters in our personal life and in our relationship with others.

When you admit to your deficit you achieve to a state of humility that reinforces and cements your relationship. Being humble is nothing but being aware of your deficit and admitting to it.

Assignment: Write down five deficits that you see in yourself and you think your partner should know about. Tell us why the information about your deficit, shortcoming, and weaknesses will help him and/ or strengthen your relationship.

15: Joint Ventures. In any relationship individual get together for reasons. These reasons could be projects, games, hobbies, jobs etc. the joint ventures are like bonds that keeps the partners together. The more complex are these bonds the deeper will be the relationship.

Your children are out of your house after finishing their college education. You and your wife see that you do not have any common things to do together, Based upon your many years of experience with him during your marriage. Can you find a list of things you can do together from now on.

  • Ex: going to movie and shows, visiting friends, going for vocations, becoming a member of a book club, and a health club.

  • Assignments: Lists five joint ventures that you and your wife can have together. Remember those joint ventures should be joyful and /or rewarding experiences for both of you.

16- growing: it is a process through which we become more prepared to reach our dreams and get closer to our vision and may be actualize them.

In a healthy relationship each side tries to facilitate the growth of the other side in any possible way. He also should try his best not to hinder it especially deliberately.

List some of the wishes, goals and or dreams that your son has and see how you can help him reach those dreams.

  • Ex: My son wants to get MBA, however, he does not have financial resources to get this degree. I can help him financially to reach this dream.

  • Assignment: Give four areas that your husband likes to grow and tell us how you want to help him in those areas.

17- appreciation: One of the most valuable assets in relationship is the capacity to appreciate what other side is doing to enhance the relationship. Appreciation is essentially is understanding the value of the work or contribution of the other side in relationship and responding to other side in a positive way so that this response encourages the person to do more to strengthen the relationship in future.

What are the things that your wife has done for you, and you have not appreciated her for? Make a list and gradually bring to her attention that understand the value of her work and you appreciate them. How do you want to show your appreciation to her Ex:

Taking her to a resort for a weekend for her love, care, and attention she provided when your mother with Alzheimer was living with you before going to personal care home.

Assignment: Give us four things that your partner has done for you and tell us how you are going to appreciate her for doing those things for you.

18-skills in romantic connection: In any romantic relationship it is so essential to know how to relate to other side so that not only that does not lead to negative feeling in the other side but it also makes the other side more attracted to you.

Here are few tips that may be useful:

See what your romantic partner wants to see in his partner and see if you can have them and then maintain them as well. Maintain those assets that give her a sense of security that you are not pretending, but you really believe in those assets and want to keep them.

  • Example: if your partner is a person who has been financially unstable person and looks for a person who is relatively stable financially then characteristic will be reinforcing the relationship.

    Get rid of the characteristics that are the other side hates to see in his or her partner.

    Example: if your girlfriend has been deceived by the previous boyfriends and you have done that to previous girlfriends as well then trying to become honest and trustworthy will be very important asset for you in this relationship.

19- physical attraction: Physical attraction reminds me of peacocks with all their ornamental feathers. It also brings to my attention the fact that we, as human beings, love beauty although beauty is in the eyes of beholder.

Physical attraction is essential for coming of people together. We tend to think of physical attraction in the context of romantic relationship, however, the reality is that physical attraction is playing a significant role in any relationship.

Let me give you an example that may help you understand my point:

Sally goes to a party arranged by her company. She is middle-aged woman who had struggled with obesity for years, however, since about two years ago she has tried to make remarkable changes in her life style. These changes have brought changes in her attitude toward her body, the food she eats and even with which she associates.

She has noted that over weight people are the people who avoid eating with and in some occasions if she has preference she even prefers to associate with people who have relatively normal weight.

It is not a surprise that when she gets into that party she automatically tries to get close to the colleagues who are not known to be indulging in excessive food consumption.

If you place a hidden camera in that hall you see that Sally, unconsciously, goes towards people who have relatively healthy wt range and tries to stay away from overweight people who in fact in the past were her close friends.

  • In this example we see a change in her attitude regarding wt has changed her values regarding choice of friends.

  •  We value or devalue physical attributes and consequently our conduct towards other people changes according to those value systems.

  • Assignment: You want to choose a girlfriend, list the physical attributes you want to see in her. Make another list in which you enumerate the lists of attributes that you do not want to see in your girlfriend.

21 . Responsibility: to maintain any relationship each side have to accept some chores, works, assignments, etc. the assignment could be identical, complementary etc.but without accepting these chores it is hard to keep the relationship going. A responsible person is the one who responds in a socially acceptable manner to other side in relationship.

Assignments:
You have rented an apartment with your boyfriend. What are the chores you have to keep that apartment neat and clean?

Ex: I am not clean and neat person and my boyfriend is. I have to be careful not to violate his territory as much as possible and also keep the apartment clean to his satisfaction.

22-Respect: it is a behavior or skill that has come from the attitude that I as an individual must understand and obey the wishes, desires, expectations, and rules that someone has set for himself and for the, provided that they are healthy and not against your wishes, expectations, etc. when you respect others you are aware of things that are of value to other side and also care about his sensitive spots and try not to touch them.

Write down the rules that you have to follow to keep your relationship with your partner? Ex: My friend is Jewish and is very sensitive towards the people who tell jokes about Jewish people and I am well-known cracking Jewish jokes and I have to be careful not to tell those jokes when I am with her.

23- freedom: Human being by nature is freedom lover. He wants to make his own decision and he does not any body to interfere with his decision-making process and the choices he makes.

To illustrate it I want you to imagine the behavior of a two-year-old boy. See how and to what extent he makes all his effort to exert his own authority in his decision making and the choices he makes as though he wants to tell us that he wants to be free and does not want any body to boss him around.

Assignments:
What are the areas in your relationship in which you think you have been controlling the other side and how you want to make changes so that he can have more control in those areas? What are the areas in your relationship in which you see the other side is controlling you, and how do you want to help him give you more control in those areas?

Note: Please send your comments and suggestions to

Fred Radfar, MD

2987 West Liberty Ave.

Pittsburgh, Pa 15416

reg :Healthy relationship: