Building Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships with your partner and family members can enhance your life and make everyone feel good about themselves. They don’t just happen though; healthy relationships take time to build and need work to keep them healthy. The more positive effort you put into a relationship, the healthier it should be.

Just because you love each other doesn’t mean you will communicate well. Healthy relationships take work. People in healthy relationships love and support each other. They help each other practically as well as emotionally. They are there for each other in the good times and the bad times. Healthy relationships are commonly based on respect, trust, open communication, equality, both shared and individual interests, understanding, honesty, and care.

People who have healthy relationships are more likely to feel happier and satisfied with their lives. They are less likely to have physical and mental health problems. Healthy relationships with your partner and family member can increase your sense of worth and belonging, give you confidence and support you to try out new things and learn more about yourself.

People who are in a healthy relationship talk to each other regularly and listen to each other too. Misunderstandings can happen, and that can lead to people being upset, hurt or confused. It is best to be clear about what you want to say. Making a real effort to understand what the other person is saying also helps. Just because you love each other doesn’t mean you will be able to communicate well or know what the other is thinking.

To encourage more open communication in your relationship:

• set aside time to speak to each other, without interruptions
• put yourself in the other person’s shoes
• don’t rely on the other person to guess what is going on, or how you are feeling
• listen to each other, and make sure the other person knows you are listening to them
• let the other person finish what they are saying
• talk about things honestly and respectfully
• try not to be too defensive
• stay calm and try not to attack.

There are other things you can do to improve your relationship with your partner or family. You can:

• say sorry when you are wrong
• be affectionate and show appreciation
• make the relationship a priority
• develop shared interests
• work on feeling good about yourself
• try to find solutions that help both of you
• make plans for the future.

It is normal to have ups and downs in a relationship. It is also normal to have different opinions. Relationships and people change over time. Your relationship is not healthy if one person has more power than another, or if that person is abusive or violent.

When a relationship ends can be a very painful time. It may take 2 or 3 years for people whose long-term relationship has ended to recover and to put their lives together again. Some people develop serious health and emotional problems during this time.