Relationships

It is normal for all couples to have problems and even argue from time to time. Money, children, work, how time is spent, and many other life challenges can put strain on even the best relationships.  Experts agree that arguments and conflict themselves are not necessarily harmful; what is important is how a couple argues and resolves conflict and stress in the relationship.

Signs of relationship stress and/or unhealthy conflict resolution:

  • Attempts at conversation are often met with silence, or disagreements are avoided altogether
  • Conversations often end in an argument or with hurt feelings
  • Frequent arguments about raising the children, money, and other common challenges
  • Frequent arguments about alcohol consumption
  • Hurt feelings from the past are dragged up during an argument
  • Disregard, criticism, or insensitivity toward partner’s feelings and needs
  • Little time is spent relaxing, being playful or romantic

Healthy communication, mutual empathy, and closeness can often lessen these problems. BU and BMC offer resources to counsel employees about these problems, and can help refer to other resources as needed. See below for contact information.

SEPARATION AND DIVORCE

There are times when it becomes necessary for couples to separate or seek divorce. Whether or not children are involved, this is rarely an easy process, and even when both partners agree to the separation, it can be painful. If you are going through a separation or divorce, it may be helpful to talk through some of the issues and learn what resources are available to you. BU Faculty Staff Assistance and BMC Employee Assistance Programs provide referrals to individual therapy, couples counseling, and community-based resources. Even if you are already in the process of separating, it may be useful to have a couples counselor help you and your spouse/partner to communicate effectively.  BU and BMC offer resources to counsel employees about these problems, and can help refer to other resources as needed. See below for contact information.

ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Any signs of relationship stress listed above could be warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship. Some additional warning signs of abuse include:

  • Actual or threatened physical harm to partner or children
  • Intimidation or threats
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Sexual assault
  • Withholding/controlling money or other basic needs
  • Interfering with partner’s work, school, or access to health care

If any of these warning signs exist in your relationship, or if either partner is afraid, being controlled, or has been hurt by the other, these may be signs of an abusive relationship. You may need to reach out for information and assistance. Please call BMC Employee Assistance office (for BMC employees) at 1-800-435-1986, or BU Faculty Staff Assistance Office (for BU employees) at 617-353-5381. We can help!

Resources:

BMC:
Employee Assistance Program – confidential counseling via toll-free phone line or in person for BMC employees and eligible dependents.
Domestic Violence Program advocacy services are free, voluntary, confidential, and open to any member of the Boston Medical Center community

BU:
Faculty and Staff Assistance Office – free, confidential counseling and referral service for faculty, staff and their families with locations on both Medical and Charles River campuses
Changes in your family – HR benefits in event of major life changes

Off Campus:
Domestic Violence Helpline – 1-877-785-2020 or 1-877-521-2601 TTY. Support, confidential, crisis intervention, resources, access to shelter, referrals, safety planning.

Online:
Marriage Builders – ways to overcome marital conflicts and some of the quickest ways to restore love.
Divorce Central – a one-stop service and support center for the divorced and the divorcing.
Divorce Online – free articles and information on the financial, legal, psychological, real-estate, and other aspects of divorce. Additionally, you can turn to the Professional Referral section of Divorce Online to locate professional assistance near you.