Healthy Relationship Tips – How to Build a Healthy Relationship


Decisions at the time of moving in together

There are a number of issues that couples need to work out at the time they begin living together. These can range from the very practical, such as who pays the rent and other living costs, to more complex ones, such as how much of the couple’s personal life to share with the parents of each partner.

Couples who do not plan these things in advance are at risk of running into conflict if they each make the assumption that the partner is going to cake responsibility for the issue, and in fact neither of them does so.

Similar problems arise when couples get married and have to make decisions about joint bank accounts or mortgages. The assumptions may be that they will carry on as their respective parents have done, but there may be serious differences of opinion about it, which they don’t even realize exist until the crisis occurs. It is much better to sort these things out in detailed discussions before the couple marries.

The family life-cycle

Each family goes through several stages in their development. These are sometimes known as the family life-cycle. The idea as it was first developed is based on the typical nuclear family of the mid-20th century, with a husband, wife and 2.4 children.

Of course not every couple or family goes through each stage, but it is a simple way of documenting the stage which a couple has reached, and can help to understand some of the stresses they are experiencing.

Stages In The Family Life-Cycle

The couple meet and form a relationship
The couple get engaged
The couple get married
They have their first child
The first child goes to school
The youngest child leaves school
The youngest child leaves home (empty nest)
Retirement of one or both partners
Death of one partner

This is of course a very limited and rather stylized account of the progress of a new relationship, and in about half of all cases the end stage is divorce rather than death. It takes no account of same-sex relationships, and the question of childless marriages, second marriages and non-marital cohabitation is not considered.

However, it remains a useful way of thinking about family relationships, and may help couples to understand some of the particular stresses which they encounter in their lives. One useful result of thinking in this way is that it helps one to recognize that each of the transitions in the family life-cycle brings decisions and adjustments that have to be made, and if the couple avoids making them, there may be problems for them and their children.

The influence of the family of origin

Many of the difficulties in relationships come from the expectations that the partners come with. Many of these, in turn, derive from their experiences in their families of origin. In some families, the father is the undoubted boss, and nothing happens without his agreement. In others, the mother has this leadership role. In yet others, there is no leadership pattern, and whoever shouts the loudest gets their way. When two people form a relationship, their ideas about what is right may be very different, and conflict may arise from the gap between expectations and reality.