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Hello Idaho: Nurturing romantic relationships

"Personal relationships are important to our overall physical and mental health, as well as our overall well-being, but like anything they require work."

BOISE, Idaho — It is hard going through life alone, which is why relationships with partners are so important.

Optum Idaho’s Darren Bushee says kindling and maintaining romantic relationships can take some effort.

"Personal relationships are important to our overall physical and mental health, as well as our overall well-being, but like anything they require work to keep them functioning," he said. “Communication is an essential piece of any healthy relationship."

Bushee suggested talking about more than just parenting or household responsibilities, making sure to take time to connect on a more personal level. He also stressed the importance of taking on difficult subjects and "fighting fair" when issues crop up.

"Disagreements are part of a partnership, but couples that use destructive behaviors during arguments such as yelling or withdrawing are more likely to break up than those that don’t," he said. "Use constructive disagreements, so listen to your partner’s point of view and validate their feelings.”

Making regular plans like taking a walk or hike together or going out to dinner also helps keep couples connected, Bushee said.

Bushee says that it is also OK to seek out help from a professional when struggling in a relationship.

“Every relationship has its ups and downs – that’s common, but one sign of a real problem is having the same fight over and over again. In that case, mental health professionals can help us improve our communication and help us find healthy ways to move beyond the conflict," he said. "Also, you don’t have to wait for the relationship to be broken to strengthen it. For instance, there are marital education programs and seminars that are offered that teach skills like effective communication, active listening, and even addressing conflicts. Those have been shown to drive marital discourse down and prevent divorce.”

You can connect to some of these resources by calling the Optum Member Access and Crisis line at 855-202-0973 or the Idaho Careline at 2-1-1.

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