Why Relationship Education Beats a Box of Chocolates This Valentine’s Day

Yes, chocolate is nice, but If there is anything worth doing this Valentine’s day it would be to invest in your relationship. Strengthening your relationship can not only improve your personal happiness, but research shows that children are safer, healthier, and more likely to thrive when adults in their lives have healthy relationships—whether or not they are married or romantically involved.

Maintaining any relationship requires on-going effort. Couples who want to do well over time should protect their bond by enhancing their friendship, interpersonal support, and mutual dedication. But it’s so easy to lose sight of these aims when risk factors like substance use and negative communication patterns develop over time.

Relationships are tough work, but between fairy tales and romantic comedies, popular culture fails to give us the tools to attend to the efforts necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. Yet where else would that education come from? Schools touch on character traits like citizenship and responsibility, with a brief lesson or two on sexual safety, but children and teens are not explicitly taught things like how to express their needs or why sharing personal expectations is so important. The onus has fallen on parents to model and teach how to build and maintain a healthy relationship – but with a declining marriage rate in America, it begs the question: How can parents pass on what they haven’t quite figured out for themselves?

With the increase of mental health problems in our community, many of which are traceable to familial distress such as divorce and single-parenthood, there has been a growing focus on helping families and couples manage the complexities of raising healthy families. Extensive studies have explored what couples should be doing to be enhance their bond. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how lost they are in their relationships until they are at the breaking point.

It’s clear there is a lot of work to be done to be successful in a partnership. The good news is that the necessary tools are readily available to help couples achieve their goals in relationships and family. Santa Barbara’s Family Service Agency offers such a research-based curriculum. The 9-week program is designed to build on the existing strengths of couples and individuals to add critical life and relationship skills that help participants create safer, more stable relationships, and by extension, better environments for their children.

So as you and your partner ponder the many ways you can strengthen or express your love for one another this Valentine’s Day, consider a long-term investment in yourselves. Relationship education can come in many forms – from reading a book to taking a course together- make learning part of your renewed commitment to each other.

To learn more about Family Service Agency’s healthy relationship education program, visit fsacares.org/relationships or call 805-335-0126 in Santa Barbara, 805-928-4150 in Santa Maria, 805-743-4146 x264 in Lompoc, and 805-343-1194 in Guadalupe.