The focus of a relationship should be on the relationship.  Then, each partner feels a sense of responsibility for maintaining the health of their union.  In a sense, both partners are moving toward a positive place—a win, win if you will—focusing on building a healthy relationship.

Mutuality and intimacy are the two major players in a healthy relationship.  And by strengthening the positive, the weight of the negatives diminish.  For example, when one is in the middle of an argument, energy intensifies and couples may become polarized.  However, if one partner moves forward in a tender way, the intensity diminishes immediately.  This does not require either partner to claim blame.  In fact, in healthy relationships, communication is strong enough for either partner to assert that though they do not feel responsible for any injury, they still want to re-establish intimacy.

Language is important here.  It is not what you say, but how you say it.  Never use language that is emotionally charged.  For example, criticism can be phrased as a request.  Never put your mate on the defensive.  They will no longer hear what you’re trying to express as they immediately move into a defensive mode.  Further, complaints should be crafted in a specified manner.  Be personal and use feeling words.  As an example “if this happens, I feel this way.”  Always maintain mutual respect—each partner acknowledging and recognizing their equal roles in the power of their union.

Healthy relationships are relationships that are in balance.  If you’re working all the time and don’t have time to listen to your partner, you are out of balance.  Couples need to carve out a specific times for mutual activities, even if that time is simply a breakfast or a dinner.  Being together intimately requires mutuality, remembering that that no partner can fulfill all the needs of the other and taking the responsibility to realistically meet your own needs.  This requires each partner to come to the relationship as an adult.

Face conflicts honestly and openly.  Never sweep under the rug hurt and injury, but rather confront conflict and anger in an open and empathic manner.  This gives couples the opportunity to express in a healthy way both their wants and their needs.  Then, discord can actually lead to an enhanced and more positive relationship.  Physical intimacy can restore a sense of connection, which reminds couples that they love one another.  Therefore, both physical intimacy and physical touching should be a priority in a relationship.  Make time for one another.  A simple touch or a passing glance keeps feelings of tenderness alive.

Always remember that a healthy relationship is mutual, whether it is physical intimacy, work or play, each partner must feel that they are an equal part of their relationship.  When partners ask each other how they feel about a certain course of action, rather than offering a directive response, one is better served using a mutual approach. Therefore, the best phrase in a relationship is, “How do you feel about…”


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.