Healthy relationships can improve all aspects of your life.

They can strengthen your mental health and wellness, build connections, make life happier and more satisfying, and be one of the best supports in your life. But healthy relationships don’t always happen automatically. They take work and there can be ups and downs. All relationships are unique. If a relationship isn’t working, it can cause stress and strain. In this section we will look at what makes a healthy relationship, what are the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and when to reach out for help.

Healthy relationships take work and mean relating to one another, being involved in each other’s lives and having a good understanding of who that person is and what is important to them.

The building blocks for a healthy relationship are:

● Communication – honest, open, and direct.
● Active listening using verbal and non-verbal cues
● Maintaining personal interests
● Conflict resolution – conflict is inevitable, and the key is to feel safe and express yourself honestly
● Confidence in the relationship
● Connectivity in the relationship
● Compromise on differences of opinion
● Emotional and physical fairness (distribution of chores)
● Openly provide and receive affection
● Engage in honest discussions about sex

In healthy relationships, partners try to give their partner the benefit of the doubt, which creates a sense of being on the same team. This feeling, maintained over the long term, can help couples overcome the challenges they face together.

We all have experienced relationship difficulties. What makes a relationship unhealthy; however, is when the unhealthy actions outweigh the healthy ones.

Every relationship represents a leap of faith for at least one partner, and even in the happiest couples, the very traits that once attracted them to each other can eventually become annoyances that drive them apart. Acquiring the skills to make a connection last is hard work, and challenges may spring up without notice. Identifying these potential challenges early, and speaking about them openly, can save a relationship.

Some relationship challenges can include:
● Jealousy
● Goal-blocking
● Poor communication
● Avoidance of difficult topics
● Taking conflict personally
● Abuse

Conflict is normal in relationship. There are some behaviors that will make conflict worse and some behavior that will help improve things when there is conflict.

• Criticize or attack your partner’s character
• Act superior to your partner
1. Be defensiveness or try to lay blame
2. Become distant and withdraw from issues that need to be discussed.

• Talk about your feelings and express what you need, for example, “I feel left out and I would like us to spend more time together”.
• Show respect and acknowledge positive things about your partner
• Listen to your partner’s perspective, try to understand it and take responsibility for what you have done wrong.
• If things get heated, take a short break but come back to the issue and be willing to discuss it when you each can be calmer.

Relationship abuse is a pattern of behaviour where one person attempts to gain or maintain power and control over a partner. Abuse in relationships can take many forms. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Or it can be all of these things. This behavior is never ok and no one deserves to be treated that way.

Many people overlook or excuse abusive behavior because you are not getting hit. Physical injury may be the most obvious danger of abuse but the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. It can destroy your self-worth, and cause you to feel anxious, depressed, helpless, desperate and alone.

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence please call or text the province-wide, toll free Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-888-709-7090. This service is available 24/7.

Abusive relationships can happen to anyone. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first steps to ending it.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. Some signs may include:

● Fear of your partner
● Controlling behaviour by your partner
● Belittling behaviour by your partner
● Constantly watching what you say in order to avoid a “blow-up”
Very often there is a cycle of abuse that repeats itself over and over. This cycle include tension build up, a blow up, and then a honeymoon period where everything seems good.

Abusive relationships can happen to anyone. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first steps to ending it. Your safety and the safety of anyone in your care is the priority:

• Talk about it with someone you trust.
• Don’t put up with abusive behavior expecting things to get better
• Have a safety plan that you can put into action if you need to
• Call the police if you feel in immediate danger
• Reach out to local shelters and helplines. 1 888 709 7090