Families & Relationships

Relationships not only give our lives meaning, they are of vital importance to our wellbeing. In fact, good quality relationships are one of the most important assets we have. Evidence indicates that good quality relationships are a crucial protective factor which can shield us from the effects of long term health conditions; aid our recovery, and can even prevent illness in the first place. Conversely, poor quality relationships are risk factors for poor health and wellbeing. 


Not only do people in poor quality relationships have worse health than those in happier ones, but poor quality relationships are also worse for our health than none: unhappily married people are at greater risk of poor health than divorced people.

Loneliness; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s); domestic violence and abuse; mental ill health; addictive behaviours; suicide and self-harm are issues where poor quality relationships are often a stressor rather than a protective factor.


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Put simply, good quality relationships are

  • Are a foundation to our health and wellbeing: Evidence demonstrates that people who have good quality relationships have lower blood pressure than those in poorer quality relationships; close couple relationships can slow the rate of decline in people with dementia and even delay admission to hospital or care homes; Relationship distress is linked to anxiety and depression
  • Are important for children’s life chances: Evidence indicates that children growing up with parents who have low parental conflict, whether together or separated, enjoy better physical and mental health; better emotional wellbeing; higher educational attainment and a lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours.


Some signs of a Healthy Relationships

  • Genuine apologies
  • Active Listening
  • Ability to accept another’s feelings
  • Taking responsibility for our actions
  • It matters to you how you make others feel
  • Wanting to grow together and find solutions instead of blaming someone/something else
  • Respect for other people and making them feel safe when they want to express their feelings
  • Words and actions align
  • Not afraid of hard conversations


Some signs of a Unhealthy Relationships

  • Feeling loved but feeling afraid
  • Feeling not good enough and feeling a need to change
  • Jealous and controlling behaviour
  • Checking of phones and social media accounts
  • Pressure to spend all of your time with one person
  • Pressure to do things you don’t want to
  • Accusations, insults, threats and intimidation
  • Feeling like you are walking on eggshells all the time.



Importance of Communication

Lack of communication is one of the main reasons why our relationships breakdown. It is important that we take time out to talk with our close friends and family members so problems can be addressed. If the problem can’t be resolved by talking it out with your loved one then seeking out professional support can help.



Getting Help with Relationships

The good news is that there are many organisations in Northern Ireland and nationally out there who provide help whether that is parenting courses, couple counselling, or young teenage relationship courses all in your local area.

Please see below a list of resources and organisations that can help you find the support you need.


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Helpful Resources

  • Relate NI - Relationship MOT questionnaire
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Find Help Near You - Parent, Children & Family


There are many support agencies in Northern Ireland who specialise in providing support to parents, couples, and families who might need some extra support. Please remember that you are not alone and that there is help available. 

We currently do not accept requests for ongoing support from us.
Instead, please browse or search our directory to find the most appropriate service for your needs to ensure you
get the best support possible.


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