Healthy Relationships: Checkpoints & Tools

Relationships can be a tricky thing. Even the healthiest relationships come with some challenges and conflict, and we need tools to learn how to navigate the hard moments. Whether you are in a relationship, looking for love, or happily single, it’s important to know how to identify and cultivate healthy relationships in your life. 

When challenging circumstances come up, the health of a relationship can be exposed. At Clearway, we provide services for clients in Central and Western Massachusetts who are facing an unexpected pregnancy. Partner support is key in these moments. Partners have the powerful ability to contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Your partner can make a profound difference in your life and that of your growing family.

However, if you are in an unhealthy relationship, the news of an unplanned pregnancy may expose the cracks in the relationship. Your partner may apply pressure and try to coerce you into the decision they want, or they may shut down and avoid involvement in the decision whatsoever. Let’s take a look at how your current relationship is measuring up.  We will walk you through some signs of a healthy relationship and provide you with tools for how to work through an unplanned pregnancy together.

Healthy Relationship Checkpoints

Below are several questions about your relationship. These questions can have a spectrum of answers as no relationship is perfect and no partner is flawless. However, good relationships provide safe spaces for you and your partner to grow together in a positive direction. 

Look at the below questions and answer each one with always, sometimes, or never. Use this as a tool to evaluate where your relationship is at right now (1). 

  1. Are we consistently kind to one another? 
  2. Are we patient with each other and the relationship? 
  3. Does everything seem to revolve around just one of us? 
  4. Do we put each other’s needs before our own? 
  5. Do we both make responsible decisions? 
  6. Are we growing as individuals (vs stifling each other)? 
  7. Is there trust in the relationship (vs jealousy and control)? 

Like we said before, no relationship is perfect. These checkpoints aren’t all or nothing. Still, take a moment to reflect on your answers. Are they generally positive? Do any of your answers concern you? If it helps, ask someone outside your relationship (who you trust) to share their insights into your relationship. The above questions highlight areas for growth, measuring where you are and where you’re going. Kindness, patience, respect, and trust are all key elements to building a healthy and lasting relationship. While everyone has their weaknesses, your relationship should be a mutual collaboration of growth and support.

Unplanned Pregnancy & My Partner

If you and your partner are facing a surprise pregnancy, you both might have a wide range of reactions, positive or negative. It’s helpful to understand how to engage your partner depending on each other’s reaction.

Many men have heard the mantra, “My Body, My Choice” as much as you have. If your partner agrees with this statement, he might think it means he has no right to say what he wants regarding a pregnancy he helped create. When you ask his opinion, he might say, “I’ll support whatever you decide.” While this can come from a good place in his heart, it can put a lot of pressure on you. Now, whatever happens, good or bad, feels like your responsibility. But in reality, this is happening to the both of you. It is important to know who he truly feels. You can let him know that you appreciate him supporting your decision, but let him know you value his true thoughts. Tell him that it’s important for you to know how he will support you and how he feels about any decision you may make. Give him time to think about the practical ways he can demonstrate his support. 

If or when a partner does share his preference, he may feel strongly in one direction or another, towards abortion or parenting. If he suggests or strongly urges abortion, find out why. He may be concerned about finances, school, the responsibilities of fatherhood, or something else. As you both share how you truly feel, try to process your options together. If you think you may need more information and resources to make an informed decision, contact Clearway Clinic for a consultation today. 

If your partner is urging you to continue your pregnancy, you might still feel unsure. Maybe in the past, he said he’d be there for you and then proceeded to let you down. Maybe you’re unsure if or how you can trust him. In this case, consider giving him concrete, tangible ways to demonstrate his support and commitment. How can he show you that he is here for you? That could mean committing to attending prenatal appointments or signing up for birthing classes together.  

Support matters in a relationship, especially when an unplanned pregnancy is involved. Support doesn’t mean going along for the ride no matter what a person does, but it’s a mutual conversation full of love and respect about what would work best for you and your partner.

Connection, Commitment, & Communication

Often, we start relationships based on a sense of connection alone. We feel drawn to a person, so we jump in. While connection is important, it’s not the only ingredient to a healthy and lasting relationship. Connection is about more than just chemistry, romance, and intimacy–it can include shared values, compatible life goals, and intentional affection. It might mean purposefully learning each other’s love language. It includes a willingness to support one another’s individuality as well as enjoying each other’s company. 

In addition to connection, a relationship cannot last without a mutual sense of commitment. If one person thinks this is an open relationship and the other doesn’t, problems will come up. It’s important to both be on the same page about the commitment you’ve made to each other. The benefit of a relationship like marriage is the mutual promise made in wedding vows. For better or worse, the couple has promised to stay committed. While some marriages end in divorce, the shared commitment has value in keeping a couple on the same page. 

Communication is a third key factor to keep a couple both connected and committed. Throughout life, every individual grows and changes. No one stays the same, and ongoing communication is necessary to stay connected. When challenges come up, your relationship should be a safe space to process, listen, and be your authentic self. In the case of an unplanned pregnancy, you and your partner need to communicate about it. If you feel as though it might be too tumultuous to communicate just the two of you, invite a trusted friend, family member, or counselor to help you navigate the conversation. Receive support from your community. You don’t have to do this alone. 

If you and your partner need support navigating an unplanned pregnancy, Clearway is here for you. Our medical services include free pregnancy testing, limited obstetric ultrasounds, and STI testing. Beyond that, we offer a safe, no-pressure environment for you to process through your options and learn about local resources. Schedule your consultation today. 

  1. Tool and following information can be found in Before You Decide online magazine, pp. 38-39

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