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2.02.2017

Matters of the heart: Having healthy relationships

No matter if you are entering a new relationship with a partner or have a life-long partnership, keeping a relationship healthy is not just about hearts and flowers. The key is communicating skillfully and behaving respectively. Remember, the quality of your relationship can affect all aspects of your life – your self-esteem, health and even productivity. These tips can help foster a healthy relationship that brings out the best in you and makes both partners happy.

Building blocks for healthy relationships

Communicate openly and honestly. You should feel comfortable expressing your needs, thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

Be supportive. Support each other’s goals, dreams, and ideas—even if they seem entirely different from your own.

Develop trust and dependability. Keep your obligations and show up where and when you promised.

Keep expectations realistic. Realize that your partner will not be able to meet all your needs.

Show respect. This should be number one in your “communication toolbox,” especially during conflicts.

Always listen non-judgmentally. Show that you value the other person’s opinions.

Accept differences. Always try to stand in the other person’s shoes, seeing their perspective. This also includes respecting differences in background, culture or religion.

Take responsibility for mistakes. Did you forget an important social event? Fail to do something you said you would? Apologize and strive to do better.

Cooperate and share. This goes for sharing the upkeep of the relationship—don’t leave it up to just one partner to maintain regular contact between you or to discuss important issues, for example.

Learn to speak up for yourself when conflicts arise. Remember to the use the “I” word. For example, instead of saying, “You never help with the chores,” say something like, “I feel that the division of chores is uneven and I’m left with the lion’s share of duties. Can we find a way to balance it so it feels fair for both of us?” Using a non-confrontational approach can go far toward resolving all types of issues.

Be willing to compromise. Having to be right or wanting things always to be “your way” can damage the relationship. The goal is to negotiate and make adjustments so you both can be happy with the result.

Remain comfortable with time apart. Spending all your time together can be smothering and may even stunt your growth or your partner’s growth. Remember to take advantage of other relationships and activities such as hobbies, sports, and social events.

Maintain non-threatening behavior. All interactions should remain positive without worry of safety.

For Health Advocate members

  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and have issues with relationships, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.