Family & Relationship Issues
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Introduction to Family and Relationship Issues

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Welcome to our Family and Relationship Issues topic center. Whoever we are, one thing is certain. We are all born the product of a union between a man and a woman, and we are all very much shaped by those who raised us, our parents and/or caregivers. We are the product of human relationships, and most of us spend our days within the context of relationships with other people. We need other people to be close to us in our lives, or we tend to get sick. Who we are is very much a function of where we have come from, and who we surround ourselves with.

family on beachDespite their vital importance in our lives, relationships can be very difficult to manage. We expect our intimate partners to provide for many of our needs, but often find that differing expectations, frustration, and a need to be right create conditions for conflict and erosion of intimacy. Angels though they may be, our children test us for weaknesses and we don't always pass. Our adult parents grow older and require care, placing a burden on our other responsibilities. A diverse set of communication and relationship skills is required if one is to successfully meet the challenges of family life.

Primarily, we learn how to be in successful relationships by experiencing them directly; by watching our parents manage conflict successfully and stay true to their loving union. Similarly, we do our best learning on how to become a good parent while being parented ourselves. Problems experienced in our early relationships are often expressed in our own behavior towards others (child abusers were often themselves abused). And vital though they are, relationship skills are seldom taught in school or other institutional settings. All of this adds up to the fact that many people end up making a mess of their relationships, in part because they never learned how to do them properly.

In this topic center, we've gathered resources to help you learn about relationship problems, and what is known about how to solve those problems. We offer information on common basic relationship issues, including marital and intimate relationship problems and parenting problems. We hope that you find these resources to be valuable.