Dr. James George Venmoney Faculty Member Counselor and Youth Speaker
This article primarily deals with the different dimensions of healthy relationships. The first part focuses on the significance of healthy relationships. An attempt is further made to identify the factors that contribute for healthy relationships. Equal importance is given to explore the challenges in forming such relationships. An attempt is further made to travel around the relationships dynamic in the family and with other faith.
Significance of Healthy Relationships
It is well accepted fact that humans are social being and relationship plays an integral part for healthy human existence. Even human birth is an outcome of the relationship between two people. Human growth is further impacted by the nurture of the significant others and through the relationship with the society. Relationship creates, contributes, receives, construe and constructs our ‘self’ and ‘others.’ Through relationships we create the society and the society is being shaped through our relationships. The formation and deformation of human personality are based on the nature of relationships. To sum up a reciprocal learning and growth is grounded through the relationships.
However, relationships will not grow accidentally; efforts and sacrifices are important aspects for fostering healthy relationships. Many factors have to be considered in contributing relationships. Healthy relationship is often most difficult, most demanding and most rewarding. It is most difficult primarily due to the differences in personality. Fault finders may find difficulty in keeping healthy relationships with others. Generally relationships are based on expectations. Failing to reach according to the expectations of others may affect the relationship pattern at different levels.
Constructing Healthy Relationships
To sustain a healthy pattern of relationships one must start from the needs of others. Flexibility, readiness to change, open discussion, are necessary factor to develop healthy relationships. Paying attention to the interested area and the subject of the counter part foster the level of communication as well as relationships. As each person is unique the value system, beliefs, priorities and life experiences of others are significant in the discussion of relationship. Along with this the unique needs of a person has to be identified and differences must be accepted to facilitate growth.
Mutual respect in communication is another factor that enriches the total relationships. Skills to listen the concern of ‘other’ enhance the rapport and widen the horizon of understanding. This will also provide opportunity for knowing, caring and sharing. One must respect the space and dignity of others to preserve the healthy relationship patterns. The common saying ‘give respect and take respect’ is well accepted and applied in the discussion of relationships. The outlook and values of others should be identified and respected to enhance the relationships.
Positive interaction enhances the level of communication pattern and enriches the quality of relationships. Reciprocity is very important in maintaining a healthy relationship patterns. It includes efforts and initiatives from both parties in meeting others needs, constructing positive interactions, repairing the damages and solving the problems. Commitment is required to repair the damages and solve the problems in the relationships. People who have healthy personality prepare for compromise and take all possible steps to reduce the conflicts.
While Howard Clinebell, discusses on the goal of pastoral care and counselling, he identified that pastoral care and counselling seeks to empower growth toward wholeness in all of the six interdependent aspects of a person’s life. Among these the four aspects are focuses on relationship which in turn leads to wholeness. It includes (i) renewing and enriching one’s intimate relationship (ii) deepening one’s relationship with nature and the biosphere (iii) growth in relation to the significant institutions in one’s life and (iv) deepening and vitalizing one’s relationship with God. Relationship with oneself, others, nature, significant institutions and Supreme Being let a person to attain wholeness in life.
Threats to Healthy Relationship
Often the threats to relationship are unhealthy communication patterns. It includes the crossed transaction, offence and devaluation of the boundary. Crossed transaction adversely impacts the total rhythm of communication pattern and relationship. Crossed transaction often end up in insult and hurt that distort the healthy communication pattern in any relationship. Where as complementary transactions are positive stroke to the recipient. That provides space to both sender and the receiver for mutual growth and enrichment.
Violation of the boundary often brings conflict and disagreement between people. Therefore, boundary should be clearly defined and job must accurately stated in any group settings. Dominating approach is another challenge in the healthy relationships pattern. Dominating personality ignores the self of others and looks to establish their own space, even at the expense of others. Individualistic culture endorses promotion of ‘self’ and ignores the ‘other’. They may see ‘other’ as a threat and steer for eliminating them. When a person is driven by the concept ‘I should win and you should loose’ space of other is at the risk of challenge.
Relationship Dynamic in the Family
Family is the primary centre of education, which advances through relationship. It is the basic unit where one either formed or deformed primarily based on the nature of relationship. According to Howard J. Clinebell, family as an organism contributes for emerging and building of the personhood of the child through the constant give and take of day to day familial interaction. Thus family atmosphere plays a unique role for the formation of humanness and identity. Familial relational pattern is the sole foundation through which the later relational experiences are fashioned. Therefore the relationships patterns of family are significant aspect to be considered. If the relational experiences between the parents are poor and impoverished for a long time, they find difficult to quench the heart hungers and emotional needs of the child. Such parental responses tend to enhance the emotional wounds of the child in different ways.
Family systems theories shed light to understand the relationship dynamics among the family members. Human actions are embedded in connections; the damage in the one part affects the other part of the organism. “A system comprises a whole made up of interrelated parts, and that crucially, change in any one part affects the rest of the system.” Systems theory paid attention on how the system functions and impacts on its component parts. Murray Bowen had chosen a biological system, the ‘human body’ to illustrate his system concept and model. The entire organism is made up of several different organ systems. The functioning of systems occurs at different level of efficacy, from the state of wholeness to total failure. Bowen indicates that “the same pattern of function, over function and dysfunction are present in the way people relate to each other in families and small social systems.”
The emotional and relational climate of the family will influence all its members. In such a context people develop different attitudes to deal such situation. For example one way of coping with the different disturbances between the couples is either one become the dominant type and the other turn into an adaptive one. The adaptive one is programmed to give the support to the dominant one in his/her decision making. It will be resulted in the functioning of ‘no self’ when the adaptive one is driven by the dominant person. If this pattern replicates for a long time the adapted one become vulnerable to some kind of chronic disorder that can be physical infirmities or social pathology like drinking or consumption of drug.
Relationship with other Faiths
Healthy pattern of relationship with other people of faith is an essential element in a multi religious context like India. Every one has the right and freedom to pronounce and propagate their faith and convictions. However, it should be done vigilantly and cautiously in religious pluralistic context. Exclusive claims and religious intolerance will be a threat to religious harmony and the peaceful co-existence of any society. When beliefs are imposed against the faith convictions upon others it can often deracinate the healthy relationships. But an open identity creates open platform for listening and dialogue with other people of faith, political order and social system. It provides open space for learning and re-learning, thus a healthy relationship is fostered among people of different faith. In the context of openness diverse cultures are affirmed, differences are celebrated and human rights are strengthened. Therefore, we must renew our commitment to work with people of different faith. Commitment to mission is a commitment to respect a community and commitment to learn from other faith community. Church which is a redeemed, transformed and transformative community has to relate with the harsh realities of the people. Identifying with the life realities and human struggles, Church stand as a liberator thus holistic development is fostered.
To sum up, healthy relationship pattern will never happen in vacuum, it requires efforts, sacrifice and sincere love. Through healthy communication a community is formed and transformed. Healthy relationships are important for emotional and physical wellbeing and a healthy social functioning. Christian virtues such as acceptance, forgiveness, considering the goodness of the other will foster a healthy and long term relationship at different levels. Let me conclude this article with an insight on relationship:‘Alone I can ‘Say’ but together we can ‘Talk’.
Alone I can ‘Enjoy’ but together we can ‘Celebrate’.
Alone I can ‘Smile’ but together we can ‘Laugh’.
Alone I can ‘Plan’ but together we can achieve’.
Yes, that is the beauty of Human Relations!