Relationships & Mental Health

How Do Relationships Effect Mental Health?

Relationships are part of our everyday experience. They are important to our mental health and overall well-being. Relationships include those with our parents, our children, our spouses, our friends, and co-workers to name a few. We also have relationships with our neighbors, clergy, dentists, and doctors.


When our relationships are going well and we feel close to others, our mental health tends to improve. When these relationships become estranged, conflicted, or lost our mental health is susceptible to decline. For those of us that find ourselves in an abusive relationship, we are likely feeling criticized, are being told what to do, feel dominated, your partner is always telling you what to do, it’s either their way or the highway, and you may not feel they do their share of things within the relationship. You can feel powerless and dismissed.


Whereas in healthier relationships, you feel accepted when you express your thoughts and feelings, don’t always feel like you have to go to the other person first, you are shown warmth and kindness, enjoy time together, resolve conflict, and feel emotionally connected. There is a level of trust between you. Your partner does not try to control who you see and has faith you will not cheat on them. There is no pressure to have sex or to get married. A healthy relationship does not keep secrets. The couple is honest and open with each other. You feel your opinions are valued and important. Your partner will be kind to you. You will feel valued and important. And most of all, you feel like there is good communication. You feel your partner listeners to you and vice versa. 


Marriage is an important relationship for many of us. It is a recognized union between two people. Marriage is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. It also forms the backbone of the family which includes spouses and children as well as extended family. Families can become blended and further expand the number of relations. The experience of marriage does have a life cycle of its own.


The beginnings are typically exciting and hopeful and there is an abundance of romantic love. However, conflict and negativity can set in, particularly when communication is poor between the partners. Then power struggles can dominate the interactions between the couple with the potential to create “triangles” that involve some other person or interest that is used as a crutch or excuse to justify one’s position in the power struggle. Ultimately a crisis can set in early for some in the marriage and later for others.


Life events can trigger the conflict such as the birth of a child, a vocational change, an affair, gambling or substance abuse, in-laws, etc.  If the couple is not able to resolve their crisis alone or with trained assistance, they may terminate their relationship or accept the unhealthy relationship. Sometimes the conflict is not always between the marital couple but between one or both and their child or children. In today’s world, family systems have become blended. In other words, parents have divorced and remarried. Or maybe they have adopted other children. When family systems become blended, conflict can center around shared or distant loyalties, co-parenting issues, and unhealthy boundaries. If communication remains poor, there is an increased probability for increased stress, violence, and discord.


Whether disturbed relationships contribute to you feeling anxious or depressed, or whether your declining mental health is affecting your relationships, professional help is highly recommended. Please contact us today to arrange for your initial appointment at 218-722-4880.

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