Are your relationships healthy?

shutterstock_400220989No matter the type of relationship you’re in—be it family, friendship, casual or romantic--communication is a key part to building and maintaining a healthy relationship. Communication can make or break most relationships. In all types, you want to be sure you 1) know each other’s wants, needs and expectations; and 2) are on the same page with one another. Timing is everything. Find the right time to talk face to face. Don’t hide behind technology, such as texts or emails. Pay attention to nonverbal communication in order to stay attuned to what is really being said. It is imperative that you stop and listen, be honest and do not attack the other person.

According to Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation, family relationships include your siblings and parents, as well as cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and stepparents. Healthy relationships with your family are important, but oftentimes, can be difficult. Friends are those people you know well and regard with affection, trust and respect. Changes in friendships are natural, but not always easy. Casual relationships are formed with people you encounter every day – anyone who is not a friend, romantic partner or family member. These relationships can occur on both a professional level and as acquaintances. Last, but certainly not least, are romantic relationships. Most people think of a romantic relationship as any two people who are in a close, intimate relationship with sexual attraction. But, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve sex. It should, however, consist of sharing values and beliefs, attitudes, dreams, strengths and vulnerabilities with one another.

You might ask the question, “How do I know if I am in a healthy relationship?” Sometimes, we yearn for relationships so badly that we choose relationships for all the wrong reasons, including insecurities, desperation, convenience, control issues, selfishness, physical attraction (just sex), money or career advancement. These things ultimately don’t meet our needs.

Knowing the signs of a healthy relationship is of utmost importance. When people develop a connection with others based on trust, mutual respect, support, inspiration, encouragement, empathy and honesty, they are in a healthy relationship. You should be genuinely happy and for the most part, less stressed. If you are in a healthy relationship, you tend to take care of yourself, share in the care of each other, have activities apart from one another, take interest in another’s activities, and resolve conflict fairly.

“Having a secure relationship is one of the best things you can do for your health,” according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, in an interview entitled “Relationships are Good for Your Health,” with Dr. Wendy Walsh, Psychologist and America’s Relationship Expert. As it relates to romantic relationships, Dr. Walsh says long-term monogamy is good for both genders, but a little bit better for men. They tend to have better health, they live longer and they accumulate more wealth. It’s because there is a woman caring for them. She continues and provides her definition of a relationship – an exchange of care. She states that women end up doing a little more work in marriages than men because they’re giving a little more care.

Romantic relationships and relationships in general are good for your health and result in fewer mental health problems, reduced pain, better recovery from heart attack and other illnesses for those who have a supportive partner. Research shows that physical affection between loving partners, parents, children and close friends can help the brain, heart and other body systems, according to Adventist Healthcare.

How can you boost your relationships? Laughter and encouragement enhances all types of relationships. Setting short- and long-term goals, taking mini vacations often, having get-togethers, and playing games can foster great family relationships. All relationships start casually, so having great listening skills and showing respect leads to very promising friendships. You can enhance your romantic relationships by improving your communication skills and increasing your quality time by taking trips together and going on dates on a regular basis.