Defining what makes a healthy relationship

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day recognized as one of love. A lot of people are spending a lot of money to celebrate their deep affection for special persons in their lives with heart-shaped boxes of candy, flowers and, for a lot of them, engagement rings. How is a healthy relationship defined?

Two of the most major parts of a relationship are communication and boundaries. When these slide, problems arise. They are required of both persons in a relationship if they want it to last a lifetime.

Both he and she should be able to discuss their issues with their partner. Both of them want to be respected and to feel like they have been heard. Somewhere along the line people today have become such multi-taskers that they can’t – or don’t – stop what they are doing, look at each other with full attention and truly hear what their partner is saying. This can lead to a partner feeling disrespected, ignored, neglected, devalued, hurt and angry, to name a few.

Each person in a relationship is responsible for setting their personal boundaries and enforcing them, things like time for family and friends, trusting each other, not stalking each other on social media, cell phones, etc.

A healthy relationship is found where both people respect their partner. They trust each other, are sincere and well-intentioned. (Granted, everyone is not worthy of trust.) But in a healthy relationship partners support each other, are fair with each other and talk about issues that arise and look to solve them, not to add them to a score card of who did what and when. And they are individuals, not carbon copies of each other. They have dreams and goals that are their own and help each other with support and encouragement.

For more ideas about what constitutes a healthy relationship, search online for “50 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship” at psychologytoday.com and “Am I in a Healthy Relationship?” at kidshealth.org. Depending on the environment of the home in which you grew up, you may or may not know how to recognize a healthy relationship.

LEAPSF.org (Look to End Abuse Permanently) is an organized effort by healthcare providers and volunteers dedicated to ending intimate partner violence and family violence. It has provided a checklist to help you evaluate your own relationship to see if it is healthy. In a nutshell:

1.) How does your partner make you feel?

2.) Do you feel safe with your partner?

3.) Does he/she respect you?

4.) Does your partner trust you?

5.) What kind of parent is your partner?

6.) Is your partner honest?

7.) Do you plan your finances together, working together for what is best for both of you?

8.) Does he/she ever put you down?

9.) Does your partner lie?

10.) Does your partner take advantage of you?

11.) Are you afraid of your partner?

12.) Does your partner keep you from family and friends?

13.) How does your partner treat the children?

14.) Does your partner hurt you?

When you answer, you may wish to think a little deeper than yes or no answers and make adjustments in your relationship that lift you to that healthy relationship status.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org.

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