Health & lifestyle
We are by nature social beings and relationships are an integral part of our lives. Relationships are always changing and need to be nurtured if they are going to be positive and rewarding.
Who do we share our lives with?
For some people a family consists of close relationships that are dependable and trustworthy, while for others their family life has been tainted by conflict or distance. Friends are also a key part of our lives and they play an important role in celebrating our joys and sharing our sorrows. And then there are intimate relationships with our partners – the people we share our lives with. They know our good and bad habits yet still remain loyal and committed to us.
Relationships that last
Relationships, whether with family, friends or partners, need commitment and nourishment. Maintaining positive relationships requires open and honest communication, clear and shared understanding of expectations, as well as genuine care, respect and trust. In addition, relationships that last are usually the ones open to change. They are also the ones that allow both individuals to make their own decisions and have their own space. Positive relationships are about being able to depend on each other without being dependant. If you want to see how your relationship is going, then why not try the Mensline Healthy Relationships Quiz?
Dealing with conflict
No relationship is without conflict. However, in healthy relationships people find ways to discuss and resolve difficulties. Working through conflict requires a calm and respectful approach, good listening skills and an acceptance of responsibility. It is important to keep the focus on the issue and avoid making personal attacks and placing blame. There also needs to be a willingness to discuss different points of view with respect and generosity. Successful problem resolution usually means finding a point of compromise.
Eventually, if conflict remains unresolved a couple’s capacity to share positive experiences becomes more difficult and the relationship may be at risk. Signs of relationship trouble might include regular criticism, minimal and negative communication, long periods of time spent away from each other and fewer fun moments.
If it gets to a point where there are few positives, then it might be time to consider what needs to be done to improve the situation. Relationships Australia has a free downloadable manual for men on renovating their relationship. The other option is to consider seeking professional help. An independent opinion from a professional counsellor can help you to identify what you are both bringing to the relationship, positively and negatively, and how you might be able to approach things differently in order to get yourselves back on track.
When relationships end
The end of a relationship, whether through separation or divorce, is not easy. In fact, many people say it is among the toughest experiences they have faced. Although some might feel relieved that the conflict is finally over, others feel frustrated, powerless and angry. Either way, loneliness, sadness, hurt and a sense of loss are also common reactions to a relationship breakdown.
Ending a relationship is a painful experience, but for men who have been married for most of their adult life, separation brings other challenges. Older men often worry about forming new relationships or just simply living alone. An added issue is that they might also lose contact with friends they and their partner used to share. There is a range of things you can do to avoid social isolation. These include being active in keeping in touch with friends, joining a club or group, or getting involved with online social networking sites such as this one.
To manage late-life separation, it is critical to seek help and support, whether from professionals, friends or family. Without support, someone who has experienced separation or divorce is at a greater risk of developing depression and other mental and physical health problems. Unhealthy coping strategies, such as drinking or playing the pokies, might help you to feel better in the short term, but for longer-term happiness, dealing with your situation and feelings constructively is better.
How other life changes can affect your relationships
Retirement is what many people look forward to for years – the opportunity to stop work and pursue other activities. But retirement is a big change and can sometimes be quite challenging. For men accustomed to the routine of work and who have also developed a social network through their job, adjusting to the loss of familiar patterns can be hard.
It is important to still have a sense of purpose, a range of activities to engage in and opportunities to connect with other people. The other important issue is time spent with your partner. Both parties will be used to a certain amount of time independent of each other and with certain roles or responsibilities. With retirement this is likely to change. Taking into account these changes and talking about how they affect each other is important to keep your relationship on an even keel.
Relationships are an integral part of our lives and need to be nourished if they are going to last. Have a think about the people in your life and what you can do to let them know how important they are to you.
Want to know more?
To help you find out more about relationships we have put together some relevant relationship links and resources.
To help you find out more about relationships we have put together some relevant relationship links and resources.Read more
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