Being a college student and maintaining a healthy romantic relationship can be a difficult task. While you may receive a great deal of support, comfort, and satisfaction from your relationship, you may also feel confused and frustrated by the additional responsibilities and demands on your time. How you negotiate and balance the many roles you play will greatly influence the quality of your life together and the quality of your student experience.
If you are contemplating marriage, you should know that we offer premarital counseling in our office. The counseling is free to any currently enrolled student however, there is a fee for the premarital assessment we recommend - Prepare/Enrich. Talking to your intended spouse about difficult issues such as finances and religion before you get married is one way to increase the odds of having a successful marriage. Premarital counseling will allow you to do this in a healthy, comfortable way. More information about the Prepare/Enrich assessment is available from their website.
Qualities of a Healthy Relationship
Partners should be comfortable with expressing both positive and negative feelings, needs, complaints, and affection.
Be clear about the expectations each of you have for the relationship. Discuss them directly and modify them when needed. How much time will you have to communicate or play together? What are the expectations for attention, emotional support, and affection?
Make a safe environment for conflict. In the context of a connected and caring relationship, each of you can state your mind without fear of dire consequences from your partner.
Set aside "priority time" for the two of you to spend together. Adopt a lifestyle that allows you to take care of your work and relationships. Don't take on more that you are willing or able to do.
How to Tell if You're in an Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship
The following is a checklist from Coping with Dating Violence. If you think you may be involved in an abusive relationship, try taking this quiz.
- __ I'm confused about my relationship with my partner.
- __ I'm afraid of my partner.
- __ I can't express my opinion or my feelings without being afraid of my partner's reaction.
- __ I always ask my partner for permission to spend time with my friends and participate in activities that don't include him/her.
- __ I constantly manipulate myself and situations to make things "just so" for my partner.
- __ I try and try to please my partner, only to be criticized again.
- __ I feel that my partner is trying to run my life.
- __ I'm beginning to believe all the terrible things my partner says about me and accuses me of. Sometimes I'm not sure what's real anymore.
- __ Our relationship feels out of control.
- _ My friends have advised me to end the relationship.
If you answered yes to more than half or these questions you may be in an abusive relationship. Remember, you are not to blame, it isn't your fault. Your only responsibility is to save yourself from it.
When to Seek Additional Help
- You are unhappy in a relationship but are unsure of whether or not you should end it.
- You decide you should end a relationship but are unable to do so.
- You recognize you have a pattern of staying in bad relationships, but you have been unable to change that pattern by yourself.
Halter, L.L.(1988). Traits of a Happy Couple. Texas, World Books Publisher.
Rue, N.N.(1989). Coping with Dating Violence. New York, Rosen Publishing Group.