|HEALTHY - FUNCTIONAL - HAPPY FAMILIES/RELATIONSHIPS
A functional, adaptive, healthy & happy family
starts with caring for one another in the family!
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Healthy, happy, adaptive and functional families do not just happen!
There are things people do to make them that way: that means people work at making them healthy
and happy: they have commitment - and are mutually committed to each other, and to making it work.
Healthy (happy) relationships do not happen on a 50-50 basis. They happen on a 100-100 basis - each
has to give ALL of their effort (100%), and sometimes 150% of their effort -to sustain the relationship
and make it work - and it has to be done unselfishly and without an agenda.
Healthy, happy & functional families are characterised by love, acceptance of individuality, trust, and
continual "mutual compromises" through negotiation to make those individual difference "work".
They blend their individuality, adjust and compromise - it is called consensus-building: that requires
|Healthy - Functional Family
Equality of Personhood.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia,
|Profile and Secrets of Healthy, Functional,
Adaptive & Happy Families & Relationships
|Healthy, Happy Family and Relationship Traits and Characteristics
|The ingredients (characteristics / secrets) for happy, healthy and functional families
involve the following:
- Young children, adolescents and parents all need to hear praise and feel affirmation
from those special members of their family.
- The adolescent strengthens his/her self-concept from the healthy statements or
gestures showing care.
- How do we reach out to our family showing care and love? What are loving and
caring words or gestures?
- In healthy families, support for family members is one of the pillars of bonding.
- In unhealthy families there is no such support - they are called "dysfunctional
families" - or dysfunctional relationships.
Dawn Cove Abbey offers a workshop entitled, "Creating A Healthy/Functional
You might also find, "If I Really Cared" worthwhile reading.
Healthy, functional families are a "minority group" - a "subculture"
within the dominant culture of dysfunction.
Other Considerations In Healthy Committed Relationships
Over time many relationships enter a stage where the partners feel distanced from each other. The
initial passion, sexual freedom, intimacy, and feelings of connectedness with the partner fade.
Either person may begin to feel that, although they love their partner, they are no longer “in love.”
At the same time, both partners may feel that they have lost themselves in the relationship.
They have given so much to the relationship in terms of their time, their energies, and their
emotions that they have lost what made them feel unique as individuals. They have abandoned old
friendships, hobbies, and activities that brought interest and excitement to their own lives in order
to devote time and energy to the relationship.
When a feeling of distance comes to define the relationship, resentment toward the partner may
How does a relationship, which may have once shown such promise, end up in a place where the
two partners feel distant and may not even like each other very much (even though they feel that
love is still there)?
The answer lies within.
Two people who come together in an emotional commitment carry with them a legacy of their own
fears, anxieties and unresolved problems.
It is sometimes uncomfortable for us to come to terms with our own baggage. It is, in fact, so
troublesome that we are unable to look within ourselves.
When that happens, we tend to attribute the problem to our partners, a process called projection
(putting blame that belongs to us on others instead).
Rather than accepting the fact that our partners are just being themselves and probably have the
best of intentions, we define the source of our own anxiety as lying within the other person.
"In the case of a married couple, the masculine and feminine element united by
true married love produce one life that is fully human". ~Emanuel Swedenborg
It takes TWO people to make a relationship work
If one "knows" how and tries - and the other doesn't it will fail
We help people heal their Relationships
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If your Relationship needs healing - we can help
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When we feel uncomfortable about something our partners say or do, we may not realize that our
discomfort may insecurity, or our fear of dependence or independence.
Our partners may simply be triggering our own unresolved difficulties. The clue is to search within
our own lives to see why we have difficulty with these issues. And this is no small task. To become
acquainted with oneself is indeed a terrible shock.
The Course of a Relationship
Relationships mature over time.
The initial attraction may be physical, and this may carry the relationship for some time to the
point of making an emotional commitment.
Then the excitement and promise of sharing our life with another person can lead to a stage of
heightened expectations where we ignore or minimize the discomfort that we may feel from time
to time in the relationship.
But this stage comes to an end and we finally express our frustration.
“Why are you always telling me what to do?”
“Can’t you give me any time to myself?”
“Don’t you know who I am?”
“Why don’t you shower me with love like you used to?”
Notice in these examples that blame is cast on the other person.
The one hurling the blame does not look within (for example, “I have difficulty because of my
own issues when someone tells me what to do.”). This is a particularly vulnerable stage in the
course of an emotionally committed relationship, and can serve as a make or break challenge.
It is at this stage that an equilibrium – or, more accurately, a standoff – is reached by the two
partners. “I won’t challenge you and you won’t challenge me, and we’ll just accept the fact that we
will be distant from each other.”
In contrast, healthier relationships move into a different and more mature stage - where both
partners look within to find the source of their own anxiety, find ways to soothe themselves
without trying to change the other person, and learn to accept and love the other person despite
their frustrating quirks.
When this occurs, and when the distance between the partners has been resolved, the genuine
excitement and passion of the relationship can continue to flourish - this time in a mature,
accepting, and integrated manner.
David Schnarch, Ph.D., the author of Passionate Marriage, suggests that in order to grow
within an emotionally committed relationship, we must experience the process of “differentiation.”
This means holding onto yourself within a relationship, staying true to what you want out of life
while sharing your life with a partner.
Differentiation allows us to break free from the negative processes that happen between partners
in any relationship. It allows us to take a time out from arguments in order to comfort ourselves.
It leads to self-control, which means that we can stop trying to control our partners.
The differentiated partner is able to soothe him- or herself rather than pressuring the other
person to change in order to make the first one feel better. Paradoxically, when partners
differentiate, they actually have the ability to achieve more intimacy, while undifferentiated
partners can stay locked in their emotional standoff.
And when one partner differentiates, it upsets the old equilibrium that had developed so that the
other partner is prompted to make changes as well. In short, a healthy relationship is one in
which two people, each of whom has a firm sense of self, come together and celebrate both their
differences and their similarities.
Schnarch identifies several activities that happen when a person differentiates.
- Maintaining a clear sense of who you are within the relationship. Your partner was probably
originally attracted to you because of the strength of your unique qualities. Both of you knew
what you valued and believed in. Over time, because we accommodate ourselves to both our
own and our partner’s more immature qualities and unresolved issues, we lose our sense of
- We compromise ourselves with the goal of smoothing out conflicts and fail to realize that
we are losing our sense of self in the process. We may find that we have lost those qualities
that were once so attractive to our partner. Differentiation involves looking within, gaining a
firm definition of who we are, and celebrating our uniqueness.
- Maintaining a sense of perspective. We need to accept the fact that we all have anxieties and
other shortcomings. This is part of the human condition. The mature person, however,
understands that these frailties need not determine our behavior.
- Our limits should neither incapacitate nor drive us. When we honestly accept this fact both
in ourselves and in our partners, we can take a more balanced approach in dealing with each
other’s limitations. The peaks and valleys of crises can be smoothed out. The blaming can
come to an end, replaced by acceptance and love for the other person.
- Committing to a willingness to engage in self-confrontation. Looking within is difficult, but
it is a necessary step both in our own life development and in helping our relationships to
grow to new levels. Self-confrontation means coming to terms with our own fears, anxieties,
and insecurities, a process that may be aided by professional psychotherapy.
- It may mean accepting the criticisms of our partners as valuable feedback about where our
- Self-examination can focus on understanding how and why we manipulate others,
undermine our own effectiveness, take a selfish approach at times (or, alternatively, give to
others and never to ourselves), and work against our own best interests. We need to
understand why we avoid ourselves, and then we need to make an honest commitment to
enter into a path of honesty and integrity.
- Acknowledging our projections and distortions of reality that protect us from ourselves. We
need to understand why we blame others, especially our emotionally committed partners,
rather than acknowledging our own participation in interpersonal conflicts.
- This involves admitting when we are wrong. We should not expect that our partners will do
likewise. Taking an honest approach toward our own lives is a tough, but rewarding, journey
into personal integrity.
- When we embark on the trip, our partners, who are no longer feeling blamed and know that
the old emotional standoffs have been eliminated, will often decide to begin their own
excursions into self-growth.
- Learning to tolerate the pain involved in self-exploration. Dealing with emotional pain is a
talent, which can be learned. In childhood many of us learned unhealthy ways of handling
discomfort, often because we lacked supportive role modeling from our parents or other
adults that would have taught us how to deal with pain in a healthier way.
- We may have learned to blame our parents when we faced life’s difficulties, and then we
carry this blaming behavior into our committed relationships in adulthood. Avoiding pain is
the reason many adults indulge in substance abuse or other addictive behaviors such as
gambling, inordinate spending, or watching too much television.
- The healthier option is to make the adult commitment to explore the pain and its sources –
and to find ways to make self-growth a friend rather than something to avoid. When we
learn to cope with our own pain, we no longer need to manipulate our partners into making
us feel better. And when this happens, the magic can re-enter our relationships.
Learn to Self-Soothe in the Face of Conflict
We blame our partners when we feel discomfort, and this tends to create distance within an
emotionally committed relationship. The distance, then, creates a feeling of further discomfort.
The clue to dealing with this dilemma is to learn how to soothe your own emotional pain. This
can open the way to more passion and closeness in your relationship.
Schnarch offers several suggestions for helping people to learn the art of self-soothing.
- Don’t take your partner’s behavior personally. Even if your partner doesn’t make all the
changes that you’ve made, it should not be taken personally.
- If you and your partner are having a conflict, try some inwardly focused relaxation
techniques. Focus on your breathing. Stop talking and try to slow your heart rate. Lower the
volume of your speech and work on relaxing your body.
- Put the current conflict into perspective. Think about past instances of the same type of
conflict. What resources did you use in the past for dealing with the conflict? Think about
how discomfort will surface again in the future - and if you learn now how to deal with it,
you will be better off in these future instances.
- Control your behavior, even if you can’t regulate your emotions. While we may have
difficulty in controlling our emotions, especially in the face of a conflict, we can have control
over our behavior. Prevent yourself from saying and doing things that you will regret later.
- Tell yourself: “I don’t have to take action on my feelings.”
- Stop the negative thinking. Our thoughts drive our feelings and behavior. When you
find yourself engaged in negative thinking, make the change to more positive thoughts.
Accept what is happening and then calm down.
- You may have to break contact temporarily with your partner until things cool down. When
you are engaged in a conflict, you may need some time to get in touch with your self again.
Look on this as a time-out, not a separation. Tell your partner that you need some time
alone to calm down and that you can discuss the issue better later, after both of you have
had some space from each other.
- Self-soothing does not involve substance abuse, the abuse of food, or emotional regression.
You need time to confront yourself and understand what your part in the conflict may be.
This does not mean hiding out, sleeping, binge-eating, or the use of drugs or alcohol, which
are all ways to avoid self-confrontation.
I hope this article helps you to think about your relationship in a new way!
(also see Love, Infatuation Obsession etc)
Characteristics of Healthy Families
Family atmosphere is influenced by a belief in helping each other, acknowledging human needs
for reassurance and support, and viewing mistakes as human. Family members know that
human needs are satisfied through relationship.
Clear boundaries between family members means that the responsibilities of adults are clear and
separate from the responsibilities of the growing child(ren). There are no “parentified” children
in the family, and people talk freely for themselves, expressing differences of feelings and
opinions without fear of punishment or retaliation.
Power and Intimacy:
People are able to relate intimately when they feel they have equal power. This is because when
we get frightened, two options are open to us: to relate through loving and caring to get our
needs met, or to control others or a situation. We may choose the power of love or the power of
Honesty and freedom of expression:
Members of a family are free to express themselves autonomously , including different opinions
or viewpoints if the family interactions support individuality. Discussions can be lively and even
heated if it is basically acceptable for family members to have differences. Love and caring is not
withdrawn if people think differently about something. If ambivalence and uncertainty are
accepted, as well as differences, families tend to enjoy an open atmosphere of honesty in
Warmth, joy and humor:
When there is joy and humor in relationships, people seek out the comfort of these interactions.
Family members’ enjoyment and trust in one another is an important energizing resource! There
is the feeling that there is always someone to talk to who cares, and who you can laugh and
have fun with at various times as well.
Organization and negotiating skill:
A necessary aspect of family life is coordinating tasks, negotiating differences and being able to
reach closure effectively. Negotiating skills include the ability to listen and make choices in what
family members feel is a fair process. In healthy families, this process does not get overly
bogged down, although there is room for discussion, and parents alternate the role of
coordinator between them. Parents can take charge without being overly controlling.
Part of the health and vibrancy of any family is also dealing with weaknesses, fears and stresses
in the system itself. Nobody is perfect and no system is perfect. But in healthy families, truth is
accepted as not absolute. Different perspectives on reality are acceptable and people are basically
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|Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.
The Dawn Cove Abbey Tradition: Helping People Rediscover Themselves
Established in 1995, in commemoration of Abbey Dawn in Kingston, Ontario.
Regardless how long your behaviour pattern and circumstances may have existed, and
no matter how much you despair of healing: recovery - healing and becoming a true
survivor is possible at any time.
"Each night I die to old habits and to negative thinking and actions that do not serve
me any more; each morning I am resurrected into new life, again and again – if I so
choose." (adapted from the chapel's prayers).
IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR LIFE
If the description on this page describes you and
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with it - and bring healing to you as well.
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First and foremost: a family's purpose (in Western-European and North American
cultural terms) consists of the living, sharing, nourishing and development of life.
In a healthy, happy and functional family, the adults (parents) have "their act
together": they are the role-models; they model behaviour: they are "adaptive" - and
each has "worth". Also see "Gender Equality".
They have, or have built, or are building, a strong, solid relationship. All their actions
in the family are generated from that strong, healthy relationship.
That doesn't mean they are both the "same".
Instead it means they have worked out an approach that incorporates their individual
each other, their children and other people: using consensus.
See further below (committed relationships)
This is equally true in blended, combined or merged families ("a meeting of two
Without that strong relationship between the two adults/parents, the family will not
have the strength that is so important; otherwise there will be failure: of both the
relationship and the family.
The strength of a family stems from the strength of the relationship between the two
adults/parents. After all, the family started with them, and when the children are
grown, it will be the two adults who are left. The question will be: with what?
A good solid relationship that has grown over time - or a disastrous, dysfunctional
- If you have a question about healthy/happy families, or a related one, or
- If any of the above (or below) does NOT apply to you and your life, or of
someone you know, and you desire help: online - distance help/counselling
works (see Distance Counselling). Help is here - no risk - no obligation to
inquire - totally confidential!
If you found this page helpful and know someone else who could benefit from it, please tell them
NOTE: For Recovering/Healing from a dysfunctional family, coping with or overcoming a
dysfunctional (alcoholic) family/relationship, help is available here - Online, distance help/counselling works!