A few years back I had lunch with a colleague who is also a couples therapist.  In our conversation about the challenges of helping couples realize what is fundamental for a healthy relationship, my friend sited these five elements. He thought it came from  Bill O'Hanlon but I haven't been able to find the original source.  When I bring them up in marital counseling they never fail to motivate a thoughtful discussion: 

  • Intimacy
  • Authenticity         
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Love

Amazingly a lot of us don't know what some of these words mean, much less know how to accomplish them in a relationship.   Intimacy, for instance, is often confused with sex.  It surprises people that couples can experience deep intimacy without ever touching each other.  Integrity is another one that's hard to describe.  It's like what that Supreme Court Justice said about obscenity, (paraphrasing here) "I can't tell you what it is but I know it when I see it."  Anyway, it's worth struggling over.  While you dust off the dictionary, re-visit the marriage quizzes.