Maintaining a Mentally Healthy Relationship

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

One of the relationships most impacted by mental health—or illness—is the relationship between you and your partner. While no two relationships are alike, all relationships can benefit from open lines of communication, addressing stigma, and building on skills to cope and navigate through challenges together.

Audience Questions

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, highlights the effects of mental wellness on relationships, explores the ways in which communication can positively impact the relationship’s dynamic, and answers audience questions about the importance of working through challenges together.

  • Why is mental health—or, at the very least, discussing mental health—so important for our close relationships?
  • How can we better cope with mental illnesses in our relationships?
  • If I have a mental health condition, should I share this with my partner?
  • If I decide to share with my partner that I have a mental illness, what are some tips to approaching the conversation?
  • How do we approach the conversation if our partner comes to us with this? How can we support them?
  • How do we suggest therapy to those who still feel stigma or anxiety around seeking mental health help, especially with those who identify as male?
  • What do we do if your partner says they feel supported by you, but you are feeling overwhelmed? Should you seek therapy for yourself or consider couples therapy?
  • Do you have any advice for people in relationships where both are dealing with mental illnesses? For example, if both people are dealing with anxiety, how do we prevent it from being a self-fulfilling cycle of feeding one another’s anxiousness?
  • If we are part of a blended family, what do we do when our new partner is having a difficult time with issues that are arising from members of our “first family?”
  • I’m part of a blended family, and we have to co-parent. My former partner disagrees with my approach to our child’s mental health challenges. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?
  • How can my partner and I set a good example for our kids in terms of making mental health a visible part of our relationship?
  • How do we help our partner with burnout if we are also feeling burned out?
  • How would you recommend including your significant other or other loved ones in activities that you find enjoyable and healthy without coming off as pushy?
  • How can I get better at taking feedback from my partner? How do I know if they’re being helpful or unhelpful?
  • What makes a relationship toxic? Are there warning signs of toxicity in a relationship?
  • I had recently asked my partner of several years to put a pause on our relationship since I wasn’t taking care of my mental health—though the relationship was a good support system for me. How can I set boundaries to give myself the time and space that I need while also fully acknowledging that I still have an underlying need to communicate with my partner?
  • The end of a relationship is something we never want to acknowledge, but sometimes it’s necessary. How do we know when we should call it quits?
  • How do you support a friend that recently got out of a long-term, emotionally abusive relationship? I feel as though their lives have drastically changed for the good, but I am still concerned for their mental health.
  • How do we support our partners through the journeys of grieving and loss?
  • Do you have advice on how to handle it when a partner withdraws affection when faced with conflict?
  • What should I do when my child is refusing treatment for their mental health disorder? As a parent, do you have any advice for getting them to access treatment without damaging the relationship?
  • Is there any literature on healthy relationships and/or psychological flexibility that you recommend?
  • You mentioned that you’ve been married for nearly 25 years. What’s your secret to having a happy marriage of 25 years?

Resources

You may also find this information helpful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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