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Nonprofit View: Attributes Dads Works, Moms Work helps couples work on healthy, mature relationships

Have you heard of the story of the frozen snake found in the woods on a cold winter day by an empathetic man, who thought by taking it home and feeding it warm milk, would receive appreciation and gratitude, only to have the snake bite him, sending its poison right to his heart, is like some people and their relationship with their spouse, lover or friend.

This is a run-on sentence and I learned in English class not to do this. But I want to grab your attention. Are you a snake handler or do you want a healthy mature relationship?

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Many of us carry the patterns learned from our dysfunctional parents and families.

If your family experienced divorce, separation, incarceration, absence emotionally, financially or spiritually, or alcoholism or any addictions, you probably need to overcome the patterns that caused these events. We have a better chance of saving our own relationships if we face these poisonous dysfunctions that bite us and learn how to build healthy mature relationships.

Here are a few signs of a Healthy Mature Relationship that we teach in Dads Works and Moms Works.

To know the other is always telling you the truth. There is a good reason why the oath required in a court testimony is, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” Why do we have to qualify the oath and say “whole truth” and “nothing but the truth”? Because in unhealthy relationships, we lie, exaggerate, omit and editorialize everything we say. Truth is vital to a healthy mature relationship.

Another sign of a healthy mature relationship is, to be listened to because of genuine interest. Don’t you hate it when you are telling your story and the other person is obviously not paying attention to you? In a healthy relationship, you listen to the other person because you really care and they really care about what is important to each other. So, we listen attentively to each other. Not duty. Not obligation. Not manipulation. We listen because we love.

And here is one more sign of a healthy mature relationship — to share inner feelings and experiences and not fear reprisal. Reprisal is an act of force or causing injury, whether verbal or physical for vengeance or retaliation. It is a war term, to obtain redress of grievances; ie exchange of prisoners.

Healthy mature relationships do not hold each other hostage. What one or the other is feeling is as real to them as the air you breathe. Each has liberty to express themselves and then afterwards if necessary, you can talk about things in an open, honest, safe and trusting way.

For more information about Dads Works / Moms Works, to participate or to support it, visit our website at www.dadsworks.org. Consider making a donation, giving as generously as you can.

David Berry is the director of Dads Works and Moms Works. He can be reached at davidberry@dadsworks.org.

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