From Dr. Jane's Notebook

First Aid For Relationships

The emotional health of an interpersonal relationship is relatively easy to assess. When two people are in a relationship, symptoms of the relationship illness can be detected through communication patterns. Left untreated, a relationship begins to show signs of illness, which affects both people. In relationships, both love and hate are contagious emotions. In relationships, both parties must actively work to resolve their problem. Below are some thoughts on symptoms and first-aid for relationships.

As an example, imagine announcing that you feel tired, hungry or sick. Next, imagine that the person you care about says that you can't possibly feel tired, hungry, or sick. The effect of that response would make most of us feel invalidated, disbelieved, or wrong. Though there are no costs associated with validation (validation can be communicated as simply as "oh?"), the cost of making another feel unimportant is very expensive to the relationship. I think it is fair to say that most of us hate to feel wrong, we don't like feeling foolish, and we don't like to feel embarrassed. Feeling foolish or wrong leads to more unpleasant exchanges.

I'm reminded of the story of two individuals describing diffrerent halves of the same elephant. One could only see the head of the elephant, the other could only see the tail. Together, they argued tirelessly about their different ways to describe an elephant, refusing to acknowledge that both could be right. In relationships, from where we each stand, we all feel quite certain of our views. As such, before compromise can be viable, we must extend to each other, the courtesy of listening to each other with respect.

ęCopyright, 1997, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

Return to Family Relationships

Return to Overcoming Loneliness

Return to Table of Contents

Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.