The Four Cornerstones for Building a Good Relationship
By Louis H. Primavera, Ph.D., dean of Touro College’s School of Health Sciences, and Rob Pascale, Ph.D.
We all seek meaningful relationships and yet, for many of us, this goal remains elusive. What does it take to sustain a healthy and happy relationship? A lot of work and commitment, says Dr. Louis Primavera, dean of Touro College’s School of Health Sciences and coauthor of the newly-published Making Marriage Work, along with Dr. Rob Pascale. The two have identified these four key cornerstones for building a good relationship:
1) Commitment-- an unwavering allegiance to a relationship and a partner. The best form of commitment is personal commitment. Personally committed partners see their relationship and their emotional bond as the most important thing in their lives, and stay in the relationship because they want to, not out of necessity or a sense of responsibility.
Personal commitment is the one that really matters. The emotional aspect of personal commitment enhances our relationship because how we feel about our partners regulates how we treat them. Personal commitment like all of the cornerstones takes time to build.
2) The second cornerstone for building a good relationship is trust. Trust is essential for the stability of any relationship. Trust lets us feel secure about our relationship because we believe our partner has our back and is loyal through thick and thin. Trust also allows us to feel comfortable presenting our thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, without worrying that our partner will judge, ridicule or reject us. Trust, like commitment, builds slowly. From personal sacrifice and positive interactions, partners realize they can rely on each other, and that leads them to trust each other. As we learn about our partner, they also become predictable to us.
3) The third cornerstone is support. In successful relationships, our partner is the go-to person. We look to them in our time of need for issues we face inside and outside of our relationship. When we’re supportive, we take on ownership of our partner’s problem, and that makes us both feel more connected to each other. When we feel supported, we feel more in control of our problems and we’re better equipped to handle them. Supportiveness comes in lots of forms. There are the obvious ones such as helping around the house and contributing money. Day-to-day positive interactions is another. Treating each other with respect, kindness, and affection as a normal routine make partners feel good about themselves, their relationship, and each other.
4) The fourth cornerstone is fidelity. Fidelity on its own won’t necessarily guarantee a relationship will remain intact, but infidelity can surely end one. In fact, it’s one of the greatest threats to relationship stability. Nothing breaks down trust and commitment more, and there’s no violation harder to overcome, than cheating. The taboo against cheating is so strong that even those who have done it still regard it as wrong.
As you think about your relationship, consider the four cornerstones. Discuss these with your partner and work together to create a solid and healthy relationship.