Practical Advice Kristina Welker

One of the biggest problems I see when I counsel couples, is the lack of respect they have for each other. We live in such a self-centered world that people seem to think that they are entitled to get their individual needs met.

One of the first things I say, if you want to make a relationship work, is that you must put your relationship above your own needs. Here are just a few of the basic rights of a healthy relationship:

• When you are in a relationship you have the right to have emotional support and the right to be encouraged. When you are happy or sad you know that your partner will be in your corner cheering you on.

• You have the right to have your own view, even if your partner has a different one. Couples often buy into a distorted belief that they must agree on everything. If you disagree, agree to disagree. Each of you has a right to your own opinion. Typically opinions, or feelings, are neither right nor wrong. They just are. There is not a right way to hang toilet paper on the dispenser.

• You have the right to have your feelings and experiences acknowledged as real. In spite of the fact that your partner may think your feelings are stupid or over the top, you have the right to feel what you feel and the right to have your partner meet you where you are.

• You have the right to live free from accusation and blame. People typically buy into one of two theories; either a person is innocent until proven guilty or a person is guilty until he proves himself innocent. If you believe the latter, then you are displaying a lack of trust. This will push your partner away rather than draw your partner close.

• You also have a right to live free from criticism and judgment. No one has the right to put themselves in the Godlike position and dispense advice to you. This puts them in a power up position and you in a powerless position.

• But most of all you have the right to live free from outbursts and rage, asked rather than ordered and free from emotional and physical threat.

If you know your rights you will recognize an unhealthy relationship and figure out the changes you need to make to make it a healthy one.


Ahwatukee Foothills resident Kristina Welker is a doctor of psychology and a licensed professional counselor in private practice. She is a member of the Ahwatukee Behavioral Health Network. Reach her at (480) 893-6767 or

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