Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:58

Your Relationships: Healthy or Not?

Written by  Jessica Gibbs-Fernandez, Ph.D.
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The human brain pushes individuals to relate in groups, families, and the community. As well, and most importantly, humans have the drive to be in “meaningful” relationships (from marriages, friendships, even children/parents). There are healthy relationships that have “manageable problems”, and then there are toxic relationships that are destructive to mind, body, and spirit.


If we look at unhealthy relationships and try to diagnose them like any other mental health issue, we would look for: “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (DSM-5). So, this would mean looking at how problems in the relationship affect work, other significant relationships, or health. In unhealthy relationships, one or both spouses may become ill or cease to function well (physically, psychologically or even socially).  This has a negative impact on others, including children.


As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see a number of couples dealing with relational issues. Most couples deal with issues involving communication, different financial goals, separation of household chores, children, in-laws and sex. Some relationships are abusive – verbally, physically, and/or emotionally or psychologically.


If you are struggling in your relationship, seek help early. The average couple only seeks marital therapy after dealing with an issue more than five years. This means that negative sentiment of the relationship often has deteriorated and now overrides any positives the couple previously had to salvage the relationship, so they feel disconnected and lost. But even in these cases, there is something that can be done. Working together, we can still salvage the positives and restore the connection.


As therapists, we are unable to dictate the future of the couple. Nonetheless we are responsible in creating awareness, consciousness and possible positive change. Of course, there is great weight in the couple dynamics and how they together deal with or solve issues. Therapy can help.



Is your relationship unhealthy?


Do you spend much of your time worrying about the relationship? Does that get in the way of other significant or important activities? (i.e. professional, family or children, spiritual or growing self).  Do you like who you are or how you feel in the relationship? Do you believe you are emotionally and physically healthy? Are there more negative experiences in the relationship than positives? Do you have family members or friends worry about you and the health of the relationship? Have you asked to get help for the relationship and the other person refuses?


If you believe that a relationship in your life is toxic or unhealthy, seek spiritual guidance and professional help. 



What does the Bible say about healthy relationships?


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)


For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)  

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