With the major life changes and economic strain of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the political tensions in our nation, this is a stressful time for everyone right now. That can take a toll on your relationship as well as your personal health.
Everybody wants their relationships to be loving and healthy. But that doesn’t happen automatically – it takes time and effort from both partners. Each partner must invest love and care into making the other feel loved, and making the relationship work.
Is My Relationship Healthy?
Every aspect of your relationship matters – from the way you communicate, the way you make each other feel with your words and actions, to how much time you spend together, and the way you spend it.
We are invested in the happiness and health of your relationship, too! Read on to learn more, and then get in touch if you’d like to talk to someone about ways we can help your relationship thrive.
Is your relationship building you up or tearing you down right now? Take this short quiz to find out how healthy your relationship may be:
1. HOW DO I FEEL WHEN I’M WITH MY PARTNER?
A positive relationship makes you feel safe, comfortable, accepted, respected, and positive about yourself. Do you look forward to seeing your partner and excited about spending time together? Does your partner listen to your opinions and respect your values? Do you feel better after seeing them? Are you kinder and more loving toward others because of their influence?
In a healthy relationship, partners support each other’s choices, hopes and plans. They encourage each other to grow and try new things. They make each other feel free to be themselves and not put on an act. They listen to problems or worries in a helpful way. They encourage each other and make each other feel special. Above all, it’s consistent. Partners can rely on each other’s acceptance and approval, even when they disagree about something.
In an unhealthy relationship, partners feel criticized and attacked. They make each other feel discouraged and like nothing is ever good enough. They make each other feel as if they have to put up with disrespect and dismissal, because they don’t have any other options. They feel anxious and like they have to walk on eggshells to avoid a fight. There are put-downs and power plays instead of cooperation and affirmation.
Sometimes, an unhealthy relationship will cycle back and forth between a big “high” of affection and a big “low” of criticism and negativity. It’s inconsistent, and partners don’t know where they stand or what kind of conflict might be coming out of the blue.
2. DO MY TRUSTED FRIENDS AND FAMILY SUPPORT THIS RELATIONSHIP?
The people who’ve known you best and longest, the people you love and trust the most, want what’s best for you. They also probably understand you very well, and may be able to see patterns that you could be too close to see clearly.
Ask them how they see your partner, and the overall course of your relationship. Does being with your partner make your friendships and family connections stronger and more positive? Or do you feel like this relationship has pulled you away from people you care about?
In a healthy relationship, your partner is a positive addition to your family and friend group. You can spend time all together, and your partner also supports you spending time with your friends and family on your own.
In an unhealthy relationship, your partner doesn’t try to get along with the people you love. They may even go out of their way to exclude them or stir up conflict. Your partner may complain about you spending time with friends and family, or refuse to go see them even when they are welcome to come along. Your partner may try to control who you see or talk to and when. They may hassle you with too many check-in calls, demand that you cancel plans at the last minute, or accuse you of flirting or cheating whenever you’re apart.
3. DO WE HANDLE CONFLICT IN A HEALTHY WAY?
Nobody agrees on everything all the time, so it’s normal for there to be some conflict from time to time in any relationship. If you and your partner never disagree about anything, think about question #1 again – do you both feel comfortable being fully “yourselves” and expressing your feelings and opinions?
The issue to look at here is the way you handle conflict together. Do you listen and really try to understand each other? Do you try different ways to compromise? Is the level of conflict reasonable and in proportion to how important the issue really is?
In a healthy relationship, both partners can voice their thoughts and emotions, and express different opinions. They can disagree without everything escalating into a fight. They actively look for ways to compromise and resolve conflict. They keep personal disagreements between themselves, or seek advice from a trusted adviser who can keep it private and stay out of it. Both partners always feel safe with each other and in the relationship, even when they are in conflict.
In an unhealthy relationship, your partner doesn’t really listen to you. They talk “at” you instead of making an effort to see your point of view. Conflicts may be unpredictable, volatile, or out of proportion to the real issue. Your partner may be quick to start a conflict, and very unwilling to let it drop, even after it’s resolved.
Your partner may blame you for “creating drama” or causing problems when you bring up legitimate disagreements or object to hurtful behavior. You may automatically blame yourself for any conflicts, just to keep the peace. Conflicts may spill out into other relationships, affecting friends and family in hurtful ways.
Unhealthy conflict may escalate to yelling, insults or humiliation. Your partner may try to control you by threatening to harm you, loved ones, or even themselves.
4. DOES MY PARTNER EXPRESS ANGER IN HEALTHY WAYS?
We all have to deal with frustrations, disappointments, and being hurt, so sooner or later you will see your partner get angry. How do they deal with that anger, and how does it affect you?
In a healthy relationship, your partner can cope with their own emotions and calm themselves down when they need to. They are aware of their own feelings and can ask for appropriate help or time to deal with them (such as needing to be alone for a little while).
They can talk about the situation without blaming you or others for things outside their control. They can be reasonable, even when they’re upset.
In an unhealthy relationship, your partner expects you to calm them down, and may lose control if you don’t. They may use hurtful or frightening actions, like threats or breaking things, as a signal that you must intervene to manage their anger.
They may refuse to discuss the problem at all, or they may blame you for things you can’t control and didn’t do. They don’t try to solve the problem or take responsibility for their own actions. They may refuse to speak to you as a way of “punishing” you when they are angry. Their anger is unpredictable and changes quickly from one mood to another.
5. IS MY PARTNER RESPECTFUL OF MY BOUNDARIES?
You have the right to decide how people should treat you, and how to respond when someone violates your boundaries. Does your partner stay within those limits and expectations? Do they treat your body, time, and emotions with respect?
In a healthy relationship, partners try to meet each other’s needs, including needs for personal space or time alone. Partners know what types of physical touch are welcome or unwelcome, and respect those limits. Partners show affection while keeping each other’s desires, values, and boundaries in mind.
In an unhealthy relationship, your partner may intrude on your personal time by calling and texting constantly, and expecting an immediate answer. They may show up unannounced at your work or when you are with friends.
They may pressure you into physical intimacy that you don’t want. They may even force you to have sex when you aren’t willing to. They may grab or shove you roughly, or hurt you physically by choking, slapping, punching you, or holding you down.
Breaking your physical boundaries like this is not okay. Even if it has only happened once, this is a huge red flag of a very unhealthy relationship. Here is some helpful information about making a plan when you feel unsafe in your relationship: https://sanctuaryforfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Safety-Planning-EN.pdf
For help with domestic violence or abuse, contact the Alabama Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.650.6522. They will listen to your needs and recommend local resources. Or you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
You can also call us to discuss your options and get support. We can connect you with the help you need.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re concerned about unhealthy signs in your relationship, we’re here to help and support you. Our trained advocates and mentors can offer a variety of resources, and our group classes help moms and dads grow closer through parenting together.
Call our Vestavia center at 205.979.0302 or the Fultondale center at 205.808.9001 to make a mentoring appointment today, or ask your advocate about relationship building at any clinic appointment. You deserve a happy, healthy, loving relationship!