1. Integrity: Great relationships are characterized by honesty, truthfulness and consistency in all conversations, under all circumstances. Relationships built on a strong base of integrity can weather any storm. Integrity calls each of us to be whole and complete in word and deed. If we live lives of integrity our relationships will thrive, without integrity our relationships can be torn apart by the sharp edges of life.
2. Action: Great relationships are based on people dedicated to great action. Action is behavior. Dedicated, loving, consistent, giving, thoughtful, appreciative, compassionate and tender behaviors feed a relationship and make it strong. We have all been told, “Action speaks louder than words,” and people who understand this law keep their actions consistent with the words, “I Love You.”
3. Acceptance: Great relationships are based on acceptance, accepting your partner just as they are. You of course can believe in our partner’s potential and possibility, but it is critical that we be willing and able to accept what IS about a person, and love them. It is only when we can love them for all they are, and all they aren’t, all they will be, and all they will not, that they have the freedom to become more than they believed themselves capable of being.
4. Appreciation: Great relationships are watered with great appreciation. Relationships are endowments, gifts from God. Because our relationships are gifts, it is important that we remember to acknowledge and appreciate everything, even the little things. Appreciation is the first gift that we give in the name of love. And we should give it freely every day for every reason that we can.
5. Attention: Great relationships must be attended. First we must show up. We must be an active participant and be willing to play full out. Relationships need attention. Giving our attention to something makes it valuable, precious and important to us. We must pay attention to a relationship the way we would to a garden. We must tend it, till it, water it, weed it, harvest it and celebrate its fruit. Paying attention will be the best payment we make in the name of love.
6.Optimism: People experiencing great relationships radiate confidence. They remain hopeful because they understand that all difficulties can be overcome as a team dedicated to love. Partners in a great relationship work together toward their goals, hopes and dreams, and fight forces that could come between them. They believe in one another and never give up their optimistic view of what the future can be. The glass is always half full in great relationships, waiting to be filled and over flowing with acts of kindness and love.
7. Empathy: A great relationship depends on the determination of each partner to understand one another. People are confusing. Often they do not even understand themselves. Therefore, great relationships require sensitivity, empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to understand life from another’s perspective, and to be able to relate to how it might feel to be in their shoes. This goes with the biblical teaching: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Seek to understand, not to be understood.
8. Patience: Great relationships bounce back from the inevitable setbacks, disappointments and temporary failures that are a part of a long-term relationship. They depend on resilience comes from determination, persistence, and faith that even the down and desperate times will pass if we are loving and patient through them. Patience is grace and optimism mixed with a cup of faith and the mixture is the secret healing balm to all temporary feelings of frustration and hopelessness.
9. Inter-dependence: Great relationships are made up of partners who know themselves and are whole and complete as human beings, but who know the great value of relationship and connection with another human being. Being whole and complete enables each partner to relate to the other in ways that are inter-dependent which draws on the strengths and insights of each. Inter-dependence makes each partner better and stronger because of it, and creates a wonderful synergy that is obvious to all who witness it.
10. Personal Responsibility: Great relationships depend on each partner committing him or herself to the physical and emotional welfare of the relationship. Great relationships are dependent on each partner’s commitment to being personally responsible and accountable for their emotions, actions, reactions and behavior.
11. Excellence: Great relationships know the difference between perfection and excellence. No one is perfect. Perfection is impossible. However, great relationships are maintained and nurtured by people who are committed to excellence. Excellence is being the best you can be and continuously improving your abilities to communicate, share, love and grow. Anyone who chooses to can become an excellent partner. All it takes is an ardent desire and a commitment to follow that desire with loving actions.
12. Insight and Understanding: Great relationships depend on the willingness of each partner to go deep within themselves to understand what motivates and drives their protective behaviors. Only when we understand ourselves and are willing to continue to discover those things that we are blind to so that we can develop the trust that no matter what, each partner will be, not only responsible for their part in any given interaction, but they will be responsible for going deep inside themselves to discover the why behind their defensive reactions as well.