The ability to have good social and intimate relationships is often cited as a hallmark of good mental health. In a healthy couple relationship, expectations often have to be worked and re-worked. What we know about healthy couple relationships is that one of the most important aspects is that the couple needs to be friends. When you look at the development of relationships over time, it starts out exciting, maybe even “magical”, but eventually the day-today takes over, and if couples have not developed a friendship, it is difficult maintaining the bond.
All of this has meaning for others, especially if there are children. The parents’ relationship is a model and parents who care about each other will often be consistent about how children are raised. Of course, parents do care about their children, even if they have a strained relationship with each other, but it makes it a whole lot easier if they can work together. Another thing we know about happy, lasting relationships is they keep their physiological arousal low – i.e. they don’t have a lot of angry, stormy fights. That doesn’t mean they “resolve” all their conflicts; rather, they manage them. They agree to disagree. On the “big stuff,” however, they have a lot of shared values and meanings.
Denis Ferguson, LCPC, Director of Behavioral Health TriCity Family Services
TriCity Family Services Website: http://www.tricityfamilyservices.org/