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The Value of a Relationship Check-Up

The Value of a Relationship Check-Up

Many people go to the doctor on an annual basis for a regular, routine, physical exam. If there are issues, we follow orders; if no issues are found, we say, “Thanks Doc, see you next year!” When it comes to routine care for our physical health, we are focused on preventative measures – catching the problem before it gets worse. Our mental health and our relational health should be no different. Importantly, when our mental and physical well-being is compromised, it can have a significant impact on our relationships. Of course, problems in a relationship can also negatively impact your mental and physical health, as found in a Harvard study. The research data on this topic are clear – all three of these areas impact one another, often in significant ways.

Even though our partners can be our greatest supports in times of stress, we don’t often take the time to ensure that our relationships are healthy enough to navigate the ups and downs of life. We may take our partners and our relationship for granted, or we may make the assumption that if it's good enough now, it will remain good enough, or we may assume that what’s good enough for us is also good enough for our partner. Many people also assume that struggling relationships will eventually get back on track and may not prioritize time or effort to make sure that happens.

What would it be like if we treated our relational health in the same way we treated our physical health?

Being proactive about your relational health means taking advantage of an opportunity to create better communication practices in the relationship, reducing the chance for resentment to seep in, and allowing for professional support to assist in strengthening the relationship and bringing you and your partner closer. As reported in studies from the Mental Health Foundation UK, relationship health is essential to our physical well-being. Research from the Gottman Institute also shows that relationships are more likely to be healthy and successful if we have better awareness of our communication patterns and have the skills to interact with our partners effectively.

You don’t have to have “big problems” to meet with a couples therapist.

Meeting with a couples therapist can create increased awareness of potential challenges in your relationship and can equip you with the tools you and your partner need to reconcile differences, communicate more effectively, and disagree without major fights. Take care of your relationship as you would your physical health and address the small issues now, rather than waiting for a major stressor to occur. And remember, being proactive about your relational health means being proactive about your own mental and physical health as well.

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