Healthy Relationship Tips

Healthy Relationship Tips for Those With Mental Illness

This page discusses Healthy Relationship Tips for those with mental illness and for everyone who desires safe and rewarding relationships.

Mental illness does not define you. You are a unique individual who happens to have developed a mental illness. You are entitled to a healthy romantic relationship. Research has proven again and yet again that a healthy romantic relationship can have positive effects on both partner's mental health.

Healthy Relationship Tip #1:
How to Identify Unhealthy Relationships

However, unhealthy romantic relationships can exacerbate symptoms of your mental illness, such as chronic depression and anxiety. Here are common characteristics of an unhealthy romantic relationship.

  • Abusive Language & Yelling – All couples disagree, but yelling insults and calling each other names is verbal abuse. This type behavior shows a lack of respect for the other partner's dignity.
  • Threats & Physical Force – It is never acceptable for partners to exploit each other through physical force, such as slapping, pushing, or hitting. Even a clinched fist threatens physical violence.
  • Secrets & Lies – are like slow acting poison to healthy relationships. 
  • Unhealthy Sex Life – Withholding sex, ignoring safe sex, forced sex or duty sex spell trouble to your romantic relationship.
  • Jealousy – is usually triggered by the fear of losing the romantic partner to a third party. Chronic anxiety can accelerate jealous feelings. However, jealousy is a destructive behavior, which does not belong in healthy relationships.
  • Infidelity –You do not deserve betrayal from your romantic partner. Your carefully constructed self-image will plummet. You have no obligation to endure infidelity. You have a choice to stay and work on healing the relationship.

While these are typical characteristics of unhealthy relationships, they are not all-inclusive. Above all, be in safe relationships. If ever your safety is threatened or compromised – get out – and don't even think of looking back.

Healthy Relationship Tip #2:
Healthy Communication

  • Active Listening – is a learned communication skill. When you are the listener, put your objective attention on what your partner is saying. Do not interrupt and maintain eye contact. Try to interpret how he feels, what he wants, without comparing it to something that has happened to you.

When he has finished speaking, mirror back to him. "I understand that you…" "I hear you saying that…"

If you need clarification, say, "I didn't quite grasp what you meant. Will you clarify so and so?"

Don't offer suggestions unless the speaker requests your advice.

  • Heart-to-Heart – Electronics are wonderful good, but e-mail, texting and Skype weren't designed to become the preferred mode of communication. Couples are trying to solve issues, resolve arguments and even breaking up electronically. This is not good. For serious matters, we need to look into each other's eyes and observe their body language.

Healthy Relationship Tip #3:
Expect Respect in Relationships

Mutual respect ensures a balance of power. Basically, it's a matter of respecting each other's human rights. For example, we have a right to privacy. Don't read your partner's journals, e-mails or listen in on phone calls. Also, give each other space to meditate, read and so on.

We have the right to pursue our individual happiness. You don't have to attach to each other like Velcro. Let your person spend time with friends without complaining.

We have the right to our individual world view. Don't try to change your partner's goals or values.

Healthy Relationship Tip #4:
Fair Compromise Settles Controversy

In healthy relationships, each partner realizes the value of "pick your battles". Keep this in mind when a disagreement causes your relationship to hit a stone wall. Ask yourself, "Does this issue matter more to my partner than me?"

If so, this is not your priority type battle, you can afford to bend.

Oppositely, the issue may concern one of your non-negotiables and you are prepared to go to the mattresses. If your person isn't willing to say "Uncle", together you must work out a compromise both of you can live with.

Healthy Relationship Tip #5: 
Giving Support

Giving support is the "I've-got-your-back" in healthy relationships. You're there for each other during life altering experiences and triumphs. Both of you give what you can, even if it's just empathy.

For example, at your partner's business-social function, praise his integrity, loyalty, etc. It will get back to him and he'll appreciate your support.

Giving emotional support is especially helpful to the partner with mental illness.

Healthy Relationship Tip #6:
Establishing & Maintaining Boundries

In healthy relationships, boundaries define where "you" end and the other person begins. Both partners have the right to set physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries.

To establish a boundary, first explain to your partner. "I feel you are disrespecting me when ________." Request that he stops _________. Explain consequences should the negative behavior continue.

Follow through with your consequences if necessary. If you don't enforce boundaries, you have no leverage to deal with issues.

Make the consequence fit the negative behavior. For instance, separation isn't a fair consequence for the chronically late person.

Healthy Relationship Tip #7:
Relationship Boosters

  • Just Because Gifts – Gifts for no particular occasion are always cherished. The new paperback he mentioned, a hot pink pair of socks to warm her feet, anything meaningful goes a long way.
  • Gentle Touches – don't necessarily indicate sex. Touch him softly on the shoulder when you're out with friends. Brush your fingers across her cheek when you're waiting in line.
  • "Something's Cooking" – If your partner always cooks dinner, make him/her a wonderful meal.
  • Surprise her by washing her car and filling up the gas tank. Surprise him with tickets to a guy thing, like mud wrestling or a hockey game.

Final Note: Many people with mental illness become non-compliant with their meds because they mistakenly believe they are "cured". Taking the right meds at the right time is one of the best healthy relationships tips.

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