As an experienced Marriage and Family Counsellor, I noticed during sessions that simply solving problems is not enough. People should be aware of impenetrable healthy or functional relationship or marriage. A healthy relationship has several strong qualities which can be used to assess one’s own relationship. Few relationships acquire all these qualities and those are Cohesion, Flexibility, and Communication.
Cohesion is a feeling of emotional closeness with another person. There are four levels of togetherness in couple and family relationships. The extremely low level of cohesion is called Disengagement and the extremely high level is called Enmeshment. The relationship becomes problematic when a couple or family struck at one of these extremes. Connected and Cohesive relationships are classified as healthy and functional because they balance separateness and togetherness. It often expressed in terms of commitment and time together in an interpersonal relationship.
- Commitment involves the degree of trust and honesty towards each other to fulfil the goal of mutual growth and happiness. Commitment includes sexual fidelity too. Each person mostly committed to each other and invests their time and energy together. Along with faithfulness, the right amount of dependability is utmost important. Each partner is equally independent as well as dependent on other.
- Time together involves quality time. In a fast-paced world, we all are unable to spend a quantity of time. Each person spends a minimum of 30 min. per day to 5 hours a week with spouse or family without any intervention. As we all know good things take time so at that particular time both enjoy each other’s company and share fun times. It centres on simple activities that generally don’t cost a lot of money like meals together, house and yard chores, picnic, coffee, outdoor creation etc.
Flexibility is a willingness to change when it is necessary. It is an ability to change the power structure, roles, and rules in the relationship or marriage. It has four levels ranging from low to high named as Rigid, Structured, Flexible and Chaotic. The extremes types are Rigid and Chaotic and work well in the short interval but have issues adapting over time. The Structured and Flexible are balanced types and are more able to alter change over time. It often expressed an ability to deal with stress and spiritual well-being.
- Ability to deal with stress involves how adaptable both are. They are often creative at preventing troubles before they occur. They see crises as challenge and opportunity and minimize its damage and grow through crises together. They are resilient enough and open to change. Couple or family seeks help if they cannot handle the conflict themselves. Although this may surprise some people, couple or family to get counselling in an attempt to learn better ways of dealing with stress or crises. Reality is dysfunctional couple or family won’t admit that they have problems and need to seek advice or help.
- Spiritual Well-being is the feeling that helps people transcends them. They have realistic optimism, hope, and faith in life. The importance of spirituality or religion is the strength of a healthy relationship. They have love, sharing, compassion, and oneness with the world. They express these feelings in terms of ethical values.
Communication is the process of sharing messages and is essential for intimacy. It is influenced by the psychological and physiological conditions of the people involved. It has three elements Perception, Evaluation, and Transmission. It can be Direct, Indirect, Ambiguous and Switchboard. It often expressed through positive communication along with appreciation and affection.
- Positive Communication involves high sharing of feelings. Such couples and families are often task-oriented, identify problems and discuss how to resolve them. They speak directly and honestly without blaming each other during conflicts and disagreements. They try to resolve fights and agree to disagree. They are extremely good at listening not only when there is a problem to be solved but also just to stay connected. They are proficient at asking questions and not try to read each other’s minds. Put down and sarcasm was used by dysfunctional families to demean a family member and sarcasm is often an attempt to mask anger and it is rarely used out of Love.
- Appreciation and Affection involve deep caring for each other and they let each other know this regularly. They give compliments to each other and have a friendly relation. They criticize each other with kindness. They maintain a ratio of 5 positive strokes to 1 critical statement. They respect for individuality. They use humour to maintain a positive outlook on life, to reduce daily tension, to express warmth and lessen anxiety.