PROFILE: Traits and Characteristics

A functional, adaptive, healthy & happy family
starts with
caring for one another in the family!

Adaptive & Happy Families & Relationships
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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 commitment.
Respect, Dignity,
Equality of Personhood.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia,
    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

    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

    When a feeling of distance comes to define the relationship, resentment toward
    the partner may emerge.

    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,  at those times.
"In the case of a married couple, the masculine and feminine element
united by true married love produce one life that is fully
~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

    Let us help you find long-term resolution for your problems
    - and assist you in your Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Healing.

    If your Relationship needs healing - we can help
    Email, or write - Today
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 uniqueness.

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

It may mean accepting the criticisms of our partners as valuable feedback about
where our insecurities lie.

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 (
See Conflict Resolution: Fair Fighting).

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)
Best wishes,
~Donna Bellafiore
                   Characteristics of Healthy Families

    Basic Orientation:
    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” (see Dysfunctional Families) 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 control.

    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 the

    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.

    Value system:
    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 good.
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"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 M.A © 2007-2020

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 the description on this page describes you
and you wish to heal, let us help you find
long-term resolution for your problems -
and assist you in your emotional, mental
and spiritual healing.

If it describes someone in your life, we can
help you understand it better and how to
cope or deal 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".  

    They have, or have built, or are building, a strong, solid relationship.
    All their actions in the family are generated from that strong, healthy

    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

    See further below (committed relationships)

    This is equally true in blended, combined or merged families ("a
    meeting of two cultures").

    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 relation-
    ship that has grown over time - or a disastrous, dysfunctional
    situation? 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:
    Help is here - no risk - no obligation to inquire - totally confidential!
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