The Importance of Relationships

This article has been written by Relate NI for Soirée Society.

The Power Healthy Relationships

Relationships are central to the human experience. Not only do they give our lives meaning, but healthy relationships are also the fundamental building blocks of personal health & wellbeing.

Evidence suggests that good quality relationships are a crucial protective factor which can shield us from the effects of long term health conditions; both by aiding our recovery if we get sick or even preventing illness in the first place.

People with good quality relationships often have lower blood pressure than those in poorer quality relationships and close couple relationships can even slow the rate of decline in people living with dementia, delaying admission of these people to care homes.

Relationships & Children’s Life Chances

Good quality relationships are also important for children’s life chances. Secure relationships in early childhood have been found to act as a buffer for coping with stress, resilience building and self-esteem.

Children who group up with parents who have a low degree of parental conflict, whether they are together or they are separated, enjoy a range of benefits including better physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing; higher educational attainment & a lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour.

The Impact of Unhealthy Relationships

It is the quality of our relationships that matter, not the number of them. Conversely to the positive effects of healthy relationships, the impact of poor quality relationships can have the opposite effect and can be seen in many of the issues we are grappling with as a society;

Loneliness; Adverse Childhood Experiences; Domestic Violence and Abuse; Mental Ill Health’ Addictive Behaviours & Suicide and Self-harm are all issues where poor-quality relationships are often a stressor rather than a protective factor.

Relationship distress is so inextricably linked to poorer overall health that many would consider that poor-quality relationships are worse for our health than none! Hence, unhappily married people are at greater risk of poor health than divorced people.

Relationship Stress Factors

It is important to remember that even the happiest of relationships can fall into relationship distress from time to time. Some common relationship stress factors to be aware of include;

  • Long working hours
  • Financial problems
  • Lack of family/couple time
  • The impact of Coronavirus
  • Lack of relationships/friendships or community
  • Poor quality relationships
  • Movement / Fluctuation of where we live
  • Online technology & social media
  • Existing mental health problems

Relationship counselling can be a critical and effective intervention when these stress factors or others have led to ongoing relationship distress over a period of time. For more information on relationship counselling services, or for tips & ideas on how to Relieve The Pressure on your relationships, visit https://www.relateni.org/relieve_the_pressure

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