Healthy Relationships 101
We spend the first quarter of our lives educating and preparing ourselves on a multitude of topics to help us navigate successful career paths- but how much time do we spend preparing ourselves to navigate a successful and healthy relationship?
Relationships, from colleagues to intimate partners, enhance our lives and provide us with a sense of connection and enjoyment. However, these relationships can also have adverse effects such as discomfort, jealously, anxiety, or even harm.
Communication is key to building healthy relationships. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things—being on the same page is very important. The following tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship.
- Speak up. In a healthy relationship, it is best to talk about something that is bothering you instead of holding it in. If you don’t feel that you can speak to your friend or partner about what is bothering you, there is likely a larger issue that you need to address.
- Respect your partner. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
- Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
- Be supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to your partner. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
- Respect each other’s privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.
There is conflict in all relationships. And by “conflict,” we specifically mean verbal disagreements and arguments. People disagree and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you have the right to a different opinion from your partner. However, disagreement must be handled in a mutually respectful manner. Use these tactics to help resolve arguments in a healthy way:
- Set boundaries. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect — even during an argument. If your partner curses at you, calls you names, or ridicules you, tell them to stop. If they don’t, walk away and tell them that you don’t want to continue arguing right now.
- Find the real issue. Typically, arguments happen when one partner’s wants are not being met. Try to get to the heart of the matter. If your partner seems needy, maybe they are just feeling insecure and need your encouragement. Learn to talk about the real issue so you can avoid constant fighting.
- Agree to disagree. If you and your partner can’t resolve an issue, sometimes it’s best to drop it. You can’t agree on everything. Focus on what matters.
- Compromise when possible. Easy to say but hard to do, compromising is a major part of conflict resolution and any successful relationship. Find a middle ground that can allow both of you to feel satisfied with the outcome.
- Consider the big picture. Is this issue really important? Does it change how the two of you feel about each other? Are you compromising your beliefs or morals? If yes, it’s important that you really stress your position. If not, maybe this is a time for compromise.
Creating boundaries is another good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want. Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship.
- Know your boundaries. You can’t sent boundaries with others if you are unsure of where you stand. Identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits and communicate them with others.
- Tune into your feelings. Two emotions serve as cues that our boundaries are out of balance: discomfort and resentment. If you’re feeling either of these, take stock of the relationship.
- Practice self-awareness. Boundaries are all about knowing and honoring your feelings. If you notice yourself not sustaining your boundaries, take stock of what has changed in yourself and/or the other person, or if a particular situation is causing unrest.
- Practice self-care. Boundaries can be a big part of making sure you take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself allows you to be a better friend and partner.
- Redbird Respect
- Workshops available from Health Promotion and Wellness
- Portions of the above information is adapted from Alberta Health Services
- The Relationship Foundation
- That National Domestic Violence Hotline