Building Healthy Relationships(Part 1 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my blog post.  My intention for this blog space is to address and talk about how we do relationships.  How do you relate to people? What are your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, approach or avoidance when it comes to how you relate to people?  Whether the person in your life is a spouse, sibling, friend, child, parent, co-worker, etc. it does not matter, to live life is to face the reality of dealing with people.

I believe that we are created to have relationships with people.  I believe that healthy people and healthy relationships give meaning to our lives.  A good life=good relationships.  Think about this.  Think about the important relationships in your life.  Can you reflect and recognize that when you do have harmony with the people in your life, that this harmony can lead to calmness, happiness, meaning, and relaxation.  That you can say and notice how much you do like and do value being in a relationship with that person.  And because of this relationship, you do notice how that affects your mood, your ability to function, to sleep, to work, to have the energy to deal and tackle problems in life.  When you know that you are liked and loved, this will propel you to face the realities of life and learn how to navigate life.

But at the same time, think about those people and relationships in your life that are not working.  Consider the stress, the pain, the hurt, the anger, the frustrations, the focus of time that it takes to try to make the relationship work.  Many of you can nod your head ‘yes’ thinking and reflecting upon all the energy you have spent attempting to make something work in your relationships only to feel defeated that despite all your efforts, you feel that it is two steps forward, and then three steps back.

Maybe one of the ways to approach building healthier relationships is to assess: What do you think will make or build a healthier relationship?  Have you ever stopped and sat down and wrote out what do you want or not want for your relationships?

Let me ask you to consider the following scenario: You go to a restaurant that somebody recommends to you.  You look over the menu items, and you decide to choose vegetarian lasagna.  You think to yourself that eating healthy and choosing good food like a vegetarian lasagna will be good for you and  thus avoiding some of the fats and high cholesterol from eating an all meat lasagna.

The server brings out a nice large portion of this dish along with garlic bread and a salad.  You have a level of anticipation and expectation hoping and desiring that this is going to be a good meal.  You grab your fork and take your first bite of this vegetarian lasagna.  But as you chew, your mouth starts to taste this vegetarian lasagna and you immediately start to choke as your mouth starts to reject this bite concluding, this does not taste good.

You then began to inspect this vegetarian lasagna on your dish with your fork and you find out that half of this lasagna is filled with lima beans.  There is pasta, cheese, tomato sauce and lima beans.  Your face and your mind began to cringe as you digest what you have just eaten and now what is staring at you on the plate.  Yes, this is a vegetarian lasagna but the server did not tell you it was going to be a lima bean lasagna.  You began to react and say to yourself, ‘Yuck, this is awful, I hate lima beans and now the dish I have ordered is ruined due to it being filled with lima beans.’

Now, I’m probably going to get in trouble with the ‘Committee for Lima Beans’ society, but I hate lima beans let alone concluding that lima beans belong in a lasagna.  When I think of building a good vegetarian lasagna, lima beans would not nor ever be the first vegetable I would choose to create a vegetarian lasagna.  That would not work for me.

So, when it comes to building healthy relationships, what ingredients would you choose to add and build a healthy relationship?  Probably, like many of us, you might begin with first choosing what you would not want as an ingredient or some unhealthy behavior that you would not want to build upon for healthy relationship.

But the problem is that many people just tolerate or accept various unhealthy behaviors by concluding these behaviors are normal. So while you might not choose lima beans to put into a vegetarian lasagna, you will choose or tolerate various unhealthy ingredients in your relationships.

In the posts that follow, I am going to discuss six unhealthy behaviors that every relationship needs to decide, do you want this behavior in your relationships?  And if not, then what are you going to do about it?  Stay tuned to consider how you are going to respond.

Phil Kiehl, MFT, M.DIV.

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ingredients you would not put into building a healthy relationship.  Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.