TW: relationship abuse
Today, we will discuss a type of mental health area that is often disregarded or overlooked: relationship abuse. A topic like this may be very sensitive for some readers. I advise you to check in on yourself before you continue reading. It’s okay if you’re not ready; healing is a process and we all experience it differently. Additionally, we have provided several resources at the bottom of this post related to health relationships. Please check these out if you are looking for additional support.
The second month of the year is a special occasion for many friends and couples. For these people, the month of February allows them to reflect on the love, trust, and care shared between each other. However, for many it may be just another month of fear and stress. The reality is that relationships and marriages are often emotionally unstable if there is little communication or trust. Together, we will explore what is relationship “churning” and how it could be identified and prevented.
For many young adults, relationships are not always stable and continuous. In fact, most relationships “commonly include breakup and reconciling patterns” (Halpern-Meekin et al., 2013). This so-called relationship “churning” is most common among young adults as they figure out their identity and sexuality. In a field study conducted by Halpern-Meekin et al., it was found that couples in churning relationships were “twice as likely as those who broke up with no-reconciliation to report physical violence.” These on and off stages are primary indicators of mistrust and confusion among couples which lead to relationship stress and physical abuse.
It is important to acknowledge that relationship abuse can take many forms. It does not necessarily need to take a physical form; it could be verbal, mental and academic. If your relationship takes a form in which it prevents you from focusing on school or yourself, it may be time to have a conversation with your partner. Another form of relationship abuse is relationship churning. Halpern-Meekin characterizes churning as “arguing and lower commitment” between partners and also by “positive features of the union, such as intimate self‐disclosure among partners” (Halpern-Meekin et al., 2013). The issue with sharing intimate information with your early partner is that they could use that information to harm you. If you are experiencing these indicators, it may be a clue to begin reflecting on your relationship and start addressing these issues.
Halpern-Meekin et al, state that couples who experience relationship churning are those who possess “weaker social skills, particularly intimate relationship skills.” Then, it may be a good idea to build social comfort with your partner by spending time with other friends. This could lead to a better understanding among both and decrease relationship stress. Social activities and conversation that should alert you if the relationship is for you and a healthy one.
Every relationship should undergo some form of open dialogue between partners involved. Speaking with your partner is beneficial because you discuss likes, expectations, and boundaries of the relationship. An educated relationship that understands each other should experience less relationship abuse of the strong social skills and high commitment. Please take into consideration that on and off commitments (accompanied with emotional stress and confusion) are early indicators of relationship abuse. I hope that you learned some early indicators and are now better suited to strengthen your relationship.
Halpern, Meekin, Sarah, et al. “Relationship Churning, Physical Violence, and Verbal Abuse in Young Adult Relationships.” Journal of Marriage & Family, vol. 75, no. 1, Feb. 2013, pp. 2–12. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.01029.x.
Resources on Health Relationships: