There are seven “pillars” that make up a strong relationship, and if all seven are healthy, your partnership is likely to be stable and fulfilling.

The pillars all support one another so if one fails, the others get weaker and are more prone to fall as well. This may set off a domino effect that could lead to the breakdown of a previously solid relationship.

The good news is that a pillar can be rebuilt but it can take time and effort. If you sense that one of your relationship pillars is starting to become unstable, repair it before it fully crumbles.

Here are the seven pillars of a strong relationship:

  1. Honesty

In relationships, as in all aspects of life, honesty is essential. If you lie to your partner, you are creating barriers to prevent your partner from understanding who you really are. Keeping a distance from your partner does not make for a strong connection.

Being honest with yourself about who you are, what you want, where you’re going, and how you’re feeling is also vital. You cannot be honest with your partner if you are not honest with yourself.

  1. Trust

Nothing weakens a relationship faster than damaged trust. Trust may be easily given at first but after it is betrayed, it is quite hard to restore.

The term “trust” refers to your partner’s ability to believe what you say. It’s important they have full confidence in you: Trust that you won’t harm them and that you will be loyal to them. This trust runs from the little things in your relationship to all the major elements that are significant to your partnership.

One’s trust might become repeatedly weakened by small things to the point that even the slightest problem can cause it to break.

  1. Respect

You have to respect your partner’s needs and wants, their weaknesses and strengths, as well as their dreams and goals. You must embrace who they are. Don’t try to mold them into your image or try to change them into what you believe they ought to be. Never treat them badly when they disagree with you. The world is rarely clear-cut or divided into right and wrong. It’s important to have this in mind and accept the fact that their differences don’t need to be “corrected”.

And if you truly respect your partner, you won’t disrespect them to other people when he isn’t there.  Doing so, even if your partner never finds out, only weakens your respect for them further.

  1. Communication

Almost every aspect of a relationship involves communication. It’s hard to trust someone who won’t communicate with you. It’s hard to have intimacy without communication. It’s impossible to resolve problems without effective communication.

That’s why it’s important to know how to communicate well and effectively.  A big part of this is body language. Become aware of your body language, and make sure that it reflects the actual words that come out of your mouth. For example, if you are not really listening to what your partner is saying, it will show up in your body language.

Most people mistake talking for communication but listening is just as important (if not more so). And not just listening, but active listening. Don’t make conversations a competition where you talk over each other, don’t try to “fix” everything your partner tells you, and don’t be waiting for them to stop talking so you can speak.

Focus on things that you have in common. That’s what brings you together.

  1. Attention

Attention is to give something or someone importance in your life.  Everyone knows this fact but being consciously aware of it and actively ensuring that you are showing up for people when life gets busy or demanding is much rarer.

When you give your partner and your relationship attention, they will notice and respond. When you give them less, they will notice that, too. You need to give them your attention in ways that show that you are thinking about them, not about you.

Giving your partner attention doesn’t necessarily even involve time with them.  It can be picking out something that they will like and getting it for them, or making them something, or planning a trip that they will enjoy. Giving them attention simply means spending time, thought and energy on them.

  1. Intimacy

Many relationships drift from being boyfriends/husbands to a friend type of relationship because of a lack of intimacy.

Intimacy doesn’t just mean sexual intimacy, although that is important, too. It means dropping the walls you have inside of you and letting your partner see the deeper and more vulnerable parts of you.

It means trusting them enough to let them into where they can hurt you. The more intimacy your relationship has, the stronger it will be, provided that the intimacy is mutual.  When only one person allows the other past their walls, it is very hard, and very tiring, on the other person.  It also starts affecting other pillars, as the person who does open their walls will start to wonder why the other doesn’t, whether the other person cares and if they can continue to count on the other person. Your relationship can only be as strong as your intimacy allows.

  1. Commitment

Commitment doesn’t have to be marriage. It simply means that you can rely on the other person to be there, to put effort into your relationship, and to keep you near the top of their list of priorities.

Commitment also means that you are willing to stick with your partner to work through difficult times and not give up or run when things get challenging.


Though each of these pillars means something different individually, each pillar is related to at least two others.  For example, it is very difficult to have trust without honesty while the lack of attention to your partner also weakens your commitment to them.

When you think about the relationship between pillars and a building, it makes it easy to see why it’s important to regularly ensure that they are strong. The crumbling of one pillar can start to weaken the overall structure and as more pillars fail, ultimately bring it all down.


Engage Men’s Health has a service called You In Mind. We offer free telephonic, online, or in-person counseling sessions in Johannesburg. You get three sessions and it’s important to complete all of them. Sessions are available Tuesdays to Fridays from 9:00 till 15:00.

To make an appointment for free mental health support, call or WhatsApp 063 649 5107  (office hours).