It’s human nature to understand extremes. It’s easy to talk about healthy relationships, especially this month when messages of love are seemingly everywhere (especially in the form of heart-shaped candy). Sadly, it’s also easy to talk about abusive relationships. We see examples in news reports of tragedies, and we can remember stories of people we knew who were in abusive relationships. Understanding the in-between, the “I’m not sure what this is” situation, can be difficult. At SHALVA, we want to help you distinguish so you can get the support you need for your relationship.
What is the difference between unhealthy and abusive relationships?
There are some major differences between unhealthy and abusive relationships. If your relationship feels off, here’s how you can consider if it’s unhealthy or abusive:
- Unhealthy relationships may feel unpleasant and frustrating for both partners. Abusive relationships feel unsafe or unfair for one partner.
- In unhealthy relationships, there is a breakdown of communication on both sides. In abusive relationships, one partner has the power and control over the other and conversations feel one-sided. One partner is constantly manipulating the other.
- Partners with beliefs and values that conflict with one another can lead to unhealthy relationship behaviors like constant bickering. When one partner is forcing beliefs and values on the other, that is abusive.
- In unhealthy relationships, there can be disagreements about money – how to spend, how to save, etc. In abusive relationships, one partner has all the access and decision-making power of money.
Can you mend an unhealthy relationship?
The good thing about unhealthy relationships is that by acknowledging the problem, and finding support, there can be room for growth from both partners. Through collective work, couples can become healthier over time. Although not impossible, this is rare for abusive relationships. Those perpetrating abuse often don’t consider their behaviors abusive, so they do not feel any motivation to change.
If you noticed more ‘abusive’ answers above, give SHALVA a call. If things tip more on the unhealthy side, consider seeking advice from an external source like a therapist together. You can learn more about therapy at sevencirclesjourney.org/resources.