I went to Catholic school and we were required to take a semester long class on matrimony during our senior year. This is one thing I learned in that class which has stuck with me through the years. All healthy relationships should be built keeping the following acronym in mind: C.A.R.I.N.G.
- Concern-- This should be obvious, but we need to demonstrate concern for the other person. If we're not concerned about the other person, then we can't really care about that person.
- Acceptance-- We must accept others for who they are, not who we want them to be.
- Respect-- We must respect each other as unique individuals. Even when we disagree, we must respect each other.
- Integrity-- We must be true to ourselves. We cannot become something we are not in an attempt to please others. Ultimately, our true self will always be revealed, so be honest about who you are.
- Nurture-- We must nurture and support one another, encouraging the best in each of us. This doesn't mean going along with unrealistic expectations, or blind support, however.
- Generosity-- We must be generous and giving of ourselves in a relationship. Be willing to give.
If both people in the relationship are committed to C.A.R.I.N.G. for one another, they can build a healthy, strong relationship. My husband and I have been practicing this since the beginning of our relationship, it's not a "conscious" act, but these elements have been in our relationship since the start. We've been through many tough times during our 14 years together, and these principals have guided us through with our love intact. If any of these were missing in our relationship, I'm certain that we wouldn't be together today.