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  • Further Education Society of Alberta

Building Healthy Family Relationships



Happy Family Day!


We hope you take time to do something special with your family or friends on this Family Day and do some healthy relationship building. For today’s blog post, we wanted to break down what healthy relationships look like and how you can encourage more growth with your family or chosen family.


What does (or doesn’t) a healthy relationship look like?


Now, this will look different for different relationships and different people. There isn’t a singular definition of what relationships need to look like. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Our relationships are going to be as varied as the people in our lives. At the core, healthy relationships should be positive, beneficial for everyone involved, and supportive.


A healthy relationship also doesn’t always come easy, even if your relationship is a casual one, sometimes there will be friction, and that is normal. When in a disagreement, remember to treat the other with respect, honesty, and truthfulness.


What a healthy relationship shouldn’t look like is one that leaves you feeling bad or drained after engaging in it. If you feel you can’t express yourself honestly or are worried that it simply might not be worth it, that’s not a healthy relationship.


And remember, healthy relationships are not only about family and friends. Co-workers, customers, and interacting with strangers are all relationships we need to work at to have a positive and healthy relationship.


How to build a positive relationship


Communication

It’s an old hat to say that the key to a relationship is communication, but I’d like to break that down a bit. When people say communication is key, it means more than just talking. Communication is about active talking, listening, honesty and trust.


It’s about clear and frequent channels of communication that work with the other person in a way that they understand. Telling someone something isn’t the same thing as communicating it effectively. That’s why it takes effort to properly communicate: you must find the channels of communication and be receptive to feedback when it is sent.

Communication will look different depending on the relationship, but it should always be done respectfully.

Compromise


A healthy relationship isn’t going to be smooth sailing all the time. You are going to disagree because the people you love are just that: individuals with personalities and agency, and you love them because of who they are. That also means that they have their own thoughts and beliefs, and that sometimes means friction.


But that’s normal! Disagreeing is normal; that’s why compromising is how people get along.


Let us introduce the DEAR MAN skill:


Describe:

Describe the situation objectively. This means sticking to the facts by avoiding opinion and interpretation. The goal is to get everyone on the same page.


Express:

Let others know how a situation makes you feel by clearly expressing your feelings. Don’t expect others to read your mind. Try using this line: “I feel ___ because ___.”


Assert:

Don’t beat around the bush—say what you need to say. Don’t say: “Oh, well, I don’t know if I can cook tonight or not.” Do say: “I won’t be able to cook because I’m working late.”


Reinforce:

Reward people who respond well, and reinforce why your desired outcome is positive. This can be as simple as a smile and a “thank you”.


Mindful:

Don’t forget the objective of the interaction. It can be easy to get sidetracked into harmful arguments and lose focus.


Appear:

Appear confident. Consider your posture, tone, eye contact, and body language.


Negotiate:

No one can have everything they want out of an interaction all the time. Be open to negotiation. Do say: “If you wash the dishes, I’ll put them away.”


The DEARMAN skill is a method you can use repeatedly until you reach a point of compromise that everyone involved will be comfortable with. It’ll take time, care, and effort to work on a disagreement, as well as a want to come to a mutual understanding and benefit. Remember, the outcome isn’t to win, it’s to find a solution everyone can agree on and move past the disagreements. https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/dbt-interpersonal-effectiveness-skills



Spend quality time together

Time spent together that is specifically set aside to be with that person. No devices, no interruptions. It’s also about the act, purposefully setting aside time to engage with your loved one. Being there to support each other is important, and spending time together at home is nice,

but making time for the other person shows a commitment, and a love that goes deeper than words.


Plan the time together, make sure it’s something you will both enjoy, and the important thing is that you both stick to honouring the time together. Using special days like Family Day is the perfect time to connect with friends and family. That’s what they are there for! There is usually something fun to do on these special days as well, so get out and start connecting with your healthy relationship!

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