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The Tool Shed for Relationships

What is a healthy relationship?

The world has indulged in a story that relationships “should” be easy; that communication even intimacy should come naturally. This creates the fallacy that relationships that struggle or find themselves having difficulties show signs of red flags and may not work. This isn’t to say red flags aren’t important but what happens when we confuse yellow flags for red flags and stop utilizing opportunities of struggle for growth?

In the beginning, relationships are shiny and new; filled with curiosity and interest, adventure and even challenge. What happens over time though, is the shininess becomes a bit faded and we start to lose our ability to see the adventure.

To have a relationship with someone is one thing, but to have a thriving relationship is a whole other.

When we think of relationships based in safety and trust, we can use the analogy of a garden. The old saying goes, “what we water grows,” however, as some may know watering is only part of the process.

Gardens require meticulous work to flourish; it needs fertilizer, aerating, pruning, time, and overall patience. If gardens go unattended for too long, weeds can begin to grow, and the health of the plants and grass can begin to deteriorate. The process then begins of trial and error, exploring tips and tools to rid the weeds and improve the health and strength of what once was. However, as you work on this, you may also come to find that you want to change the plants and flowers; modifying, enhancing, even taking some out to better support a healthier environment. This can change the overall look and feel of your garden, at times opening space for uncertainty and doubt.

Relationships are no different than the garden described above. Many come to a place, where they no longer feel connected and need to reevaluate and explore what the next phase of their relationship can look like.

Below is a list of qualities, traits, and tools to explore and expand on to help build a more nourished and fulfilled relationship.

1. Understand what happens to our hearts when they feel open and when they feel closed

2. Be intentional with creating a space for rest and relaxation

3. Work on sending clearer messages to your partner

4. Ruptures and repairs need to happen, work towards understanding your pattern and navigating when those messages aren’t clear.

5. Be intentional with creating rituals for connection

6. Learn how to “tune in” to your partner

7. Develop awareness of your protective moves that can block open conversations.

Some can be done with practice; others might need some guidance. But just like gardens, sometimes we need an outside perspective to understand what it is we’re needing to thrive.


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