by Sylvia Loumeau, MSW, LCSW, director of Catholic Charities Adoptions and Counseling Services
This article originally appeared in the May edition of our Year of the Family newsletter. To read the newsletter in its entirety, visit our Year of the Family homepage.
In high school or college, we learn history, economics, and math; the sort of things that help us to get a good job. But there is rarely a class on how to recognize and create a good relationship. From parents and other caring adults, we’re likely to hear “that guy/girl isn’t right for you.” But how do we learn what is right?
To go even further, if we’ve experienced a bad relationship or relationships, we may know concretely what the wrong elements are in a relationship. But how do you look for the good when you don’t know what you’re looking for?
Relationships usually start with a physical attraction to the other person and whether or not we like that person’s personality. Looks and personality are a great place to start, but a healthy relationship is built on many other things too. Some of the most important are trust, respect, and a shared vision.
Use this checklist to determine how healthy your relationship is. If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you know you are in a healthy relationship.
__ Do I like how my partner treats me?
__ Do I like how I treat my partner?
__ Do I like how I treat myself in this relationship?
__ Do I like how my partner treats him/herself?
__ Can we both share our thoughts and feelings without being ridiculed, threatened or harmed in any way?
__ Is it okay for my partner to think differently than I do?
__ Does my partner listen to me when I speak?
__ Do we keep the promises (even the small ones) we make to each other?
__ Do I believe my partner always tells me the truth?
__ Am I able to negotiate with my partner?
__ Are our resolutions to problems fair?
__ Do we make decisions together?
__ Do we share responsibilities equally?
__ When I need support, do I turn to my partner?
__ Do I tell my partner what I am thinking and what my needs are?
__ Is it okay for my partner to spend time away from me?
__ Do we share common goals for the future? Do we talk about them? Do we take steps to bring them about?
__ Do we have fun together?
Catholic Charities offers counseling for couples, individuals and families. Visit our counseling services page for more information.