Tools for Healthy Relationships

Tools for healthy relationships


Many theories and research studies ventured to identify the magical formula for creating and sustaining solid, long-term satisfying love relationships. Questions about what bonds individuals and societies together have filled volumes with theories, hypotheses, observations and conjectures by the greatest minds in human history.  Though no unified answers have found, some fascinating ideas surfaced.


Charles Darwin, who was in ill health most of his life, sought a woman who could care for him. Nine years after his marriage he wrote to Emma,” I do long to be with you and under your protection for then I feel safe.” Towards the end of his life he wrote, “I marvel at my good fortune, that she, so infinitely my superior in every single moral quality, consented to be my wife.” For Darwin, protection, safety and high morality were the traits he valued the most in Emma.


In “The Moral Animal” Robert Wright states, “Friendship, affection and trust- are the things that, long before people signed contracts, long before they wrote down laws, held human societies together.”


John Stuart Mills who believed that utilitarianism reigns over all our choices underscored that “pleasure and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends.” And that pleasure and pain dictate our habits.


Wright concludes, having a societal moral code in which everyone ‘s happiness and ease counts can occur “if everyone treats everyone else nicely.” For example, “a society in which everyone holds the door open for people behind them is a society in which everyone is better off. If you can create this sort of system of mutual consideration-a moral system- it’s worth the trouble from everyone’s point of view.”

He summarizes, “you should go through life considering the welfare of everyone else as important as your own welfare.”


Using these few recommendations of some of the most brilliant minds can help us endeavor to achieve our partner’s and our own most basic needs: Being protected, safe and secure with a mate requires establishing a deep friendship, affection and trust.


To have a society or partnership when all are enhanced requires the consideration of the other’s needs, avoiding inflicting pain and choosing to provide pleasure. Viewing others as equals helps us be considerate, kind and loving. These attitudes and practices reduce pain and increase pleasure for both giver and receiver, create security and bonds people through affection and trust.


Adults, as children do, require a safety net of emotional and physical support to feel secure and upon getting this are able to reciprocate with goodwill.  

Clinically, couples who learn to be kind, respectful and egalitarian and express more compassion and love for each other are more likely to bond well for life.


To create friendships, love and harmony:

  • Treat your mate and others with the same kindness, support and consideration you wish to receive.
  • Act to decrease others’ pain and increase their comfort and pleasure.
  • Consider others’ welfare as equally import to yours.
  • Love your partner as thyself.


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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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