Building Skills for Healthy Relationships

A healthy relationship is key to our happiness and well-being.

The research findings are clear – good relationships add to our well-being.[1][2] being in a romantic relationship that is characterized by mutual respect, love, affection, and support has an especially positive impact on men’s lives, including helping them live longer![3]

Developing and maintaining healthy romantic relationships that boost our mental health takes effort and skill. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught, and we may not have men in our lives that model them.  

Further complicating things for guys are the mixed messages that we often receive. On the one hand, society tells us that to be a “real man” means to be “tough” and not show emotions or vulnerability, which prevents men from being open and honest. Yet, on the other hand, the ability to share emotions, be vulnerable, and show tenderness are necessary for healthy romantic relationships.

The reality is that it takes true strength to be open, honest, and caring. Moreover, we actually gain strength (a sense of being confident and resilient) when we are a part of a good relationship.

While it might seem that forming a good romantic relationship should come without stress, don’t be fooled – it takes work to keep a relationship going once the initial excitement of the early phases of a relationship fades.

Decades of research have helped pinpoint several factors that are key to lasting and rewarding romantic relationships. This course will introduce you to the most critical principles and practices that form the foundation of successful romantic relationships. 

This course is designed for men of all ages and relationship experiences, whether this is your first relationship, or you’ve been married for years and are looking to strengthen your bond. 

What Do Healthy Relationship Skills Look like?

We’ve divided up this course into eight sections:

Open, honest, clear, and respectful communication is the foundation of a good relationship and underlies all the other skills required for developing and maintaining a strong partnership.

Mutual fulfillment of both partners’ intimacy and sexual needs is a critical aspect of a healthy romantic relationship. Understanding and communicating our needs and desires, and being open and responsive to those of our partner are key factors that contribute to a fulfilling sex life.

To feel wanted is a basic human need. Expression (both verbal and demonstrated through actions) of the love and affection we feel toward our partner is necessary for our partner to feel desired and appreciated. It’s also important to be able to ask the same from our partner for ourselves.

A good relationship is characterized by empathy and compassion toward each other, and is fundamental to feeling heard and understood by our partner.

Happy relationships are rooted in mutuality, a partnership based on equality and respect for each other’s needs and wishes, which requires compromise and shared understanding.

Trust takes time and effort to develop and maintain, and underpins the sense of security that a good relationship provides. There is truth in the old adage that trust is the hardest thing to gain, but the easiest to lose in a relationship.

A healthy relationship complements the individuals involved – rather than completing them. We need to have boundaries that preserve our sense of individuality in order to continue being ‘our own person’, while still being available to another.

All couples have disagreements – it’s normal. Disagreements or conflicts that are skillfully negotiated can actually contribute to the strengthening of relationships.

Important Disclaimer

This course is for men looking to improve existing relationships or start a new relationship on the right foot. 

Sometimes though, we may find ourselves in a relationship that is beyond repair, these relationships are beyond the scope of this course. 

  • Signs of an abusive relationship include our partner constantly needing to know where we are, who we’re hanging out with, checking our phone without permission, keeping us away from friends or family, preventing access to money, threats of violence, physical abuse, sexual assault or coercion. 

Though it doesn’t get spoken about much, men can be victims of domestic abuse too – in both queer and heterosexual relationships. Abusive relationships are more common than we may think. More information on abuse and domestic violence


Let’s begin with the key of all relationship skills – communication.

References:

  1. Relationships and community: Statistics. Mental Health Foundation. (n.d.). https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/statistics/relationships-community-statistics#:~:text=Couple%20relationships,people%20who%20are%20unhappily%20married. 
  2. Salvatore, J., Gardner, C., & Kendler, K. (2020). Marriage and reductions in men’s alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use. Psychological Medicine, 50(15), 2634-2640. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31685061/
  3. Rendall, M. S., Weden, M. M., Favreault, M. M., & Waldron, H. (2011). The protective effect of marriage for survival: A review and update. Demography, 48(2), 481–506. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-011-0032-5 

THIS IS MEN'S HEALTH WEEK | JUNE 10-16TH, 2024

Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024