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Is My Relationship Healthy?
Understanding Balanced Partnership

By Shatyra Williams, MSW, RSW

Published: March 2014

The term ‘healthy relationship’ refers to the positive nature of a partnership between two individuals. In order to identify whether or not the relationship between yourself and your partner is healthy, the following must be considered:


How do I feel in the presence of my significant other?

Has this relationship helped or hindered my self-growth, identity, or self-care in any way?

What are the key contributions that I have made in this relationship?

What are the sacrifices that I have made in this relationship?

What is my communication style with my partner?

Do my partner and I share the same goals for the future of our relationship?

 

A healthy relationship does not mean a ‘perfect’ relationship. The partnership of two individuals, with two different identities, pasts, thought processes, and communication styles naturally presents challenges. However, the key to establishing a healthy relationship is to develop personalized approaches to working together toward common goals despite these inevitable differences. 

 

Oftentimes we judge our own relationships by comparing ourselves to others. You may think to yourself “well he does not physically harm me the way that so and so’s husband does” or “well she may have been physically aggressive, but I know that she is faithful unlike my mother was to my father” or “His words are very hurtful, but he has never raised his voice to me the way X’s husband did to her”. This is a common mistake in judging the health of your relationship. The health of a relationship cannot be simply classified by the presence or lack of physical violence, faithfulness, aggression or any other ONE aspect. Relationships are multidimensional, constantly changing, and personalized. An occurrence that one person may find to be a breaking point, another may feel quite capable of working through. Therefore, in order to understand the health of your own relationship, deeper understanding and a process of self-reflection is required.


One of the main aspects of a healthy relationship to be considered during self-reflection is Balance. In order for a relationship to be fulfilling, it needs to accommodate two balanced individuals as well as a balanced partnership. A balanced individual refers to someone who is able to either feel well or work towards wellness in the following areas of life simultaneously: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, career, and finance.  A balanced partnership refers to two individuals who are able to equally (yet uniquely) contribute or work towards contributions to the aspects of their shared life such as: home, family, finance, etc. Lack of wellness in any one area of an individual’s life WILL impact the overall balance of the relationship. Therefore it is important to address personal issues in order to protect or improve a relationship.


Some perceive relationships from a give and take perspective and are easily satisfied with what they are able to acquire from a relationship, such as: comfort, financial support, social status, etc.  It is important to recognize the multidimensionality of the relationship as opposed to concentrating on any one positive or negative aspect. Healthy relationships require BOTH members to gain a sense of fulfilment in each aspect of the relationship and includes working towards change in areas where one person feels unhappy.


Participating in an unhealthy relationship is detrimental to one’s health. The word “participating” is very important here. Identifying the unhealthy aspects of a relationship is only the first step. Recognizing your role in the problem is necessary for change. After reflecting on your own relationship, you may have identified a behaviour that your partner exhibits may in fact be stunting your ability to prosper in one or more areas of your personal life. Instead of blaming your partner completely or instantly walking away from the relationship, you also need to look inward and ask yourself:  a) why have I been accepting of this unhealthy behaviour? b) How can I express my unhappiness with this situation to my partner? And c) How will I take back control over my personal self-care?


Relationships are experiences and opportunities to learn about one’s self. Failure to recognize or address problems in a relationship can result in feelings of frustration, depression, confusion, self-neglect, loss of passion for life, and much more. A relationship is an exchange of energy. It is important to be mindful not only of what type of energy you infuse into the lives of others, but what energy is being infused into your life by others. Emotional and psychological distress has a direct link to physical wellbeing. Self-reflection and working towards a healthy relationship can allow you to free yourself from toxic energy and loss of self-care.  


Create a healthy relationship by finding balance in yourself. Encourage and support your partner to do the same. Speak truthfully, listen genuinely, and prioritize your wellbeing.   

About the Author

Shatyra Williams MSW, RSW is a Toronto-based Social Worker with a passion for women's wellness. As Program Manager of RWRJ's Artistic Healing Group, Shatyra teaches healthy coping strategies for women survivors of trauma. Through a variety of creative educational techniques Shatyra helps women to challenge themselves, to embrace their imperfections, and to love their journey. 

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