The “Good Enough” Relationship

Do you have a good enough relationship? What’s that? It sounds like settling for less than the best.  However, through my counseling approach, I see myself actually encouraging couples to strive for a “good enough” relationship.

    In a good enough relationship, people have high expectations for how they’re treated. They expect to be treated with kindness, love, affection, and respect. They do not tolerate emotional or physical abuse. They expect their partner to be loyal.

This does not mean they expect their relationship to be free of conflict. Even happily married couples argue. Conflict can actually be healthy if you know how to deal with conflict because it leads to greater understanding.

    People should not expect to solve all of the problems in their relationship, either. John Gottman has discovered in his research almost ⅔ of relationship conflict is perpetual. As Dr. Dan Wile (After The Fight) says, “When choosing a long-term partner… you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems.”

   That doesn’t mean that you settle for being treated poorly. In his empirically-based theory, John Gottman describes what couples in a good enough relationship do and have. They are good friends. They trust one another, and are fully committed to one another. They have a satisfying sex life. They can manage conflict constructively. That means they can arrive at mutual understanding and get to compromises that work. And they can repair effectively when they hurt one another.

They honor one another’s dreams, even if they’re different. They create a shared meaning system with shared values and ethics, beliefs, rituals, and goals. They agree about fundamental symbols like what a home is, what love is, and how to raise their children.

Expect that. You deserve it. It’s not unreasonable, and it’s achievable.

Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.
Picture of Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.