Waving the Green Flag

Empowering Approaches to Help Sustain a Healthy Relationship

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Relationships are a lot of work. Two individuals coming together, from different backgrounds, walks of life and different perspectives, can make for an interesting time.

While differences can occur, some couples tend to stand firmly with their opinions and have a difficult time viewing their partner’s perspective; which can lead to complete and utter chaos. While it is important for each perspective to be heard, pride can sometimes get in the way.

Remember folks, relationships are work, they are not always rainbows and sunshine, but relationships can be a beautiful thing, even with ups and downs. 

For the most part, at some point, we have all endured toxic relationships where multiple red flags have been raised and we chose to ignore them. While it was not fun and games during those times, the toxic relationship teaches each and every one of us a valuable lesson – what we are willing and not willing to tolerate.

The couple months after coming out of a toxic relationship, your eyes have opened a bit further on those red flags and why you were not willing to settle/tolerate the toxicity. But with each red flag, is a green flag. Those green flags are the aspects and experiences you learned from and are the things you want to see happen/come about within a relationship.

So often we are constantly searching for the red flags and we completely ignore all the green flags that are flying sky high in our relationships. While I am not saying to ignore the red flags, it is important to acknowledge the areas that contribute happiness, love, peace, growth and joy within a relationship as well. 

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You Can Make It If You Try


As previously stated, relationships are work. In order to make a relationship work, it is going to take time, effort, patience and understanding from both parties. If deep down in your bones, you feel the relationship is for you, serving you, contributing to your greater good, but there might be some areas that need “work” or further clarification and understanding, saddle in, buckle up and tango through the journey.

Listed below are some helpful relationship tips that can help promote and stimulate exploring and achieving a healthy, prosperous relationship.

1. Always Love Yourself

While in a relationship, you tend to show love towards your partner, but it is just as crucial to show that same love and respect to yourself.

There is an old saying that goes, “if you cannot love yourself, you cannot love anyone else” and that speaks volumes. You may still be able to love someone else, but if you are hard or down on yourself, critiquing yourself, you can in turn block that love and admiration from your partner.

Self love is a great love and ultimately, that all comes from within. Be authentically you, acknowledge your worth and your wins throughout your day, compliment yourself. Practicing and enhancing the love for yourself will help strengthen the love and admiration for your partner as well.

2. Listen, Think, and Communicate

People — whether it is your mother, father, friend, boss, partner or peer in the grocery line, — may not always see things eye to eye. While that can be frustrating at times, we are not so quick to write off our family, friends or bosses.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It is important to listen to what your partner has to say, as well as them to listen to what you are trying to say.

Try the STOPP technique the next time you are in a conversation with your partner if you are feeling overwhelmed or angered.


Take a breath

Observe how you are feeling/your stance

Perspectives — try to look at the shoe on the other foot, and

Put that perspective into practice

This technique will help open up the lines of communication, rather than shut it down quickly. It is also okay to agree to disagree. Another aspect that can be put to use is seeing if the conversation/disagreement is going to be worth it five minutes, five days, five weeks or five months from now. If so, it is definitely worth talking about, but in a calm, assertive manner. And remember, if you are not speaking it, you are storing it.

3. Boundaries are Key

If you remember what was discussed earlier, how red flags help us identify what we are willing or not willing to tolerate, the things that we are not willing to tolerate are now healthy boundaries that we can identify and practice. 

Boundaries are ways to help communicate our morals, values, and feelings towards situations, discussions, or behaviors that can arise. Boundaries include physical, emotional, time, sexual, intellectual and mental.

Having a conversation about one another’s boundaries is super important to address what is within one’s threshold and what is completely outside it. Having a conversation about boundaries can be scary, as you may not know where your partner stands, but this can help strengthen your relationship and get to know each other on a deeper level and respect each other’s wants and needs.

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Helpful and Fun Resources

If everything that is listed above is not your speed, (just yet, let’s say), there are other resources that can help open up the lines of communication between you and your partner and help explore your relationship further.

*Note- these can be viewed as entertainment purposes and to promote fun and creative conversations.*


If you are struggling with your relationship and/or want to explore ways to communicate, set healthy boundaries and practice the act of self-love, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Licensed professionals can help you talk through your feelings, find ways to open up the lines of communication and to help promote self-love and acceptance.  


Jane Dustman is a LCSW who enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, hanging on the beach, practicing yoga and dancing. Jane is dedicated to her practice of social work and enjoys being a full-time therapist at Exceptional Wellness Counseling. EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

Check out Jane’s professional bio Here


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