HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

 Section V - Mental Health Topics

Table of Contents 

Previous Topic | Next Topic

Relationship/Marital Problems

Few, if any, relationships are perfect. Problems are bound to occur. The problems most often linked with marriage and other relationships include:
 
bullet Failures in communicating
bullet Misunderstandings
bullet Negative feelings, such as being hurt, put down, ignored, abused and/or lonely
bullet Power struggles
bullet Acting out to get attention. Ways to do this include pouting, whining, nagging and complaining
bullet Addictive behaviors

Other problems arise when partners have different needs in a relationship. Common differences include:

bullet Money
bullet Sex
bullet Work
bullet Child-rearing
bullet “In-law” or other family problems
bullet Time and how it is spent (i.e., studying, partying, golfing, watching TV)
Few relationships are perfect; problems are bound to occur.

Most of the time, these problems can be worked out by the persons involved. Professional help should be sought, though, if any of the following apply:

bullet The problems are severe
bullet The problems keep you from doing your daily tasks
bullet You cannot resolve the problems on your own
bullet You want to strengthen your relationship(s)

Questions to Ask

Have you thought about suicide or harming the other person as a way to get out of a relationship?


Yes. Get Emergency Care.

No

 
Are you or others you live with being physically abused?
Yes. Get Emergency Care.

No

 

Have you been unable to perform your daily living tasks due to any of the following?

  • Depression (See “Depression”.)
  • Physical or mental health conditions in yourself or others you live with
  • Inability to make any decisions
Yes: See Physician or See Counselor

No

 

Are you acting out in ways that cause physical and/or emotional distress to others?

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 
Are you projecting your anger from one relationship onto others?
Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

Do you want to resolve a relationship problem(s), but you have not been able to do so on your own?

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

Do you tend to cover up or make excuses for any kind of abuse in the marriage or relationship? This includes drug abuse, child abuse, gambling, and violence.

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

Do you feel as though you can’t be yourself with your mate or do you generally feel unsatisfied being part of a couple?

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

Do issues that center around money, work, sex, in-laws, children, partying, etc. go unresolved and tend to simmer just below the surface?

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

Do the same concerns keep coming up and do you and your partner continue to have the same fight over and over?

Yes. See Counselor.

No

 

 

Self-Help

Ways to Improve Communication

bullet Avoid blaming the other person. This puts him or her on the defensive and prevents communication. When blaming starts, listening stops.
bullet Take 51% of the responsibility for listening to what is being said. Ask questions to clear up what you don’t understand.
bullet Be sincere, honest, and show concern in your conversation. Don’t be sarcastic or make fun of the other person.
bullet Try to let go. Before getting into an argument, ask yourself if the issue can simply be “let go.” Ask the other person, too. If you both say yes, drop it and don’t let it re-surface at a later time.
bullet It’s alright to discuss problem issues, but be certain that you focus on how to solve the problem, not placing blame for it.
bullet Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to see his or her point of view.
bullet Remind each other of the many positive strengths of the relationship. Build on these strong points. Don’t dwell on the negative ones.
bullet Don’t bring up old issues, disputes or grudges. When past problems enter in, the  conversation can get out of hand.
bullet Timing is critical. Ask yourself if it is the right time to bring up an issue. If the other person is undergoing problems with work, school, kids, health and/or family, adding yet another problem to their burden is not likely to solve the issue. It may serve to cause them more anguish. If possible, wait until the other person’s burden has lightened to bring up yet another problem.
bullet Don’t approach an issue with the idea of changing the other person’s mind or convey an attitude that you’re right and he or she is wrong.
bullet Share the issue. The problem belongs to both you and the other person. Work to understand your partner’s position first, then to have him or her understand your position.
bullet Omit distractions. Don’t attempt to discuss an issue while driving a car, taking care of children, doing a household chore or doing anything that will take your attention away from the issue and the other person.
bullet Make sure you know your own position and be ready to state it clearly to the other person.
bullet Communicate in an assertive way.
  • State your position in terms of what your feelings about the issue are.
  • Don’t make demands of the other person or put them down.
  • Use “I” rather than “you” messages. For example, if you are upset by the fact that the other person has begun to neglect their appearance, instead of saying “You look like a slob,” it would be better to state “I like it better when your appearance is neat.”
bullet Listen with your heart. Hear what the other person is saying regardless of how they say it. Allow him or her to be comfortable while they are stating their position. Don’t take an “attack” position and wait tensely for your turn to talk. Don’t interrupt them while they are speaking.
bullet Make a plan. This should consist of what you can do to solve the issue and what you are willing to do. Knowing these things in advance can speed the solution and reconciliation process.
bullet Go in peace. Let the discussion of a problem run its course and end in peace with both of you at ease. Don’t continue to “stew” over who said what, the decisions that came out of the argument and whether the other person gained more than you did in the bargaining session. If you still feel uncomfortable with the solutions, re-state your position and try again. Be aware, however, that some issues may not be able to be changed. For example, in the case of differing sexual desires/needs, forcing or asking that your partner engage in sexual activity beyond their desire for it will not benefit you or your partner and will only cause more tension.
Let each person speak openly about the problem.

 

 

 

Build on the strengths of your relationship.

Specific Problem Areas

Jealousy

bullet Focus on the idea that the relationship is more important than the problem.
bullet If you experience abnormal jealousy in relation to situations or persons in your life, the following suggestions may be helpful:
  • Admit your jealousy. Pretending there is no problem or that it is not a serious problem only compounds the issue.
  • Look for the cause of the jealousy. Some of the causes may be:
    • Your present or a past partner cheated on you which has caused you to feel insecure.
    • Your partner seems to pay more attention to others, work or social friendships.
    • Members of the opposite sex find your partner attractive and pay a lot of attention to him or her.
    • You fear your partner may one day lose interest in you and seek another partner.
  • Express your fears and concerns to your partner.
  • Learn about jealousy. Read books on the subject, talk to people who live with jealous persons to get an idea of what it’s like to experience a partner’s jealous responses. Or, talk to other people who experience extreme jealous feelings themselves.
  • Communicate. Talk to your spouse/partner about your feelings. Perhaps they are doing something they are not aware of that is causing you distress.
  • Talk to a counselor if you cannot curb your jealous responses on your own.
bullet If you are the victim of someone’s abnormal jealousy or if you know someone who is abnormally jealous, the following suggestions may help you deal with them:
  • Be supportive. Recognize that your partner has a problem and encourage them to work on their behavior. Give them positive feedback as they progress.
  • Hold your ground. If your partner questions you, state your explanation clearly and without anger.
  • Be objective. Try to see the situation from your jealous partner’s point of view when possible. Avoid doing things that may be causing their jealousy and spend quality time together as a couple. Communicate your feelings to your spouse/partner. Tell them you love them. Compliment them.
  • Don’t provoke jealousy. If you know your partner is prone to certain jealous reactions, don’t flirt with people in their presence, don’t ridicule, antagonize or tease your spouse/partner about their jealousy. Don’t leave “fake clues” to an alleged infidelity.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Do not withdraw or avoid other social relationships. This can be the consequence of dealing with a violent or otherwise abusive jealous person. You need to communicate and interact with other people to maintain your own sense of self-worth and identity.
bullet Seek professional help. If you and your partner cannot work out your jealousy problems through communication, companionship and trying to create an otherwise satisfying relationship, consult a counselor.

Sex
Discuss your sexual needs with your partner.

bullet Ask your partner about his or her sexual needs.
bullet Develop areas where both you and your partner have compatible needs/desires.

Money Matters

bullet Set financial goals. Decide together what you want to accomplish within a certain time (example: 6 months, 5 years, throughout life). Continue to review and modify your plans, if necessary.
bullet Develop a realistic budget. You can do this in one of two ways:
  • Single Fund - Both partners have a joint account and agree that “what’s mine is yours.” This works if both of you can agree on a budget and spending practices.
  • Separate Finances - This works well if both partners work. Each person is responsible for an agreed-on portion of the household costs. They are then free to do whatever they wish with the rest of their money with no resentments from the other partner.
bullet Organize financial records. Keep track of statements, check stubs and receipts. These can help monitor spending.
bullet Establish a credit history in both partners’ names.
bullet Limit the number of credit cards you have, how much you charge on them or get rid of them entirely. Opt for credit cards with the lowest interest rates, if you use them.
bullet Get professional help from an accountant, financial planner or other specialist if you need help managing your money.
Being organized can help monitor spending.

Copyright 2004, 5th Edition, American Institute for Preventive Medicine. All rights reserved.

The content on this website is proprietary.
YOU MANY NOT MODIFY, COPY, REPRODUCE, REPUBLISH, UPLOAD, POST, TRANSMIT,
OR DISTRIBUTE, IN ANY MANNER, THE MATERIAL ON THIS SITE.
 
March 16, 2007