3 Keys To A Happy Relationship And Avoiding Abuse


I was talking to a client recently about how the keys that lock us into abusive relationships can be turned the other way to unlock a happy future.

I brought it up with a friend who was struggling on a number of life fronts all at the same time shortly afterward.

And it occurred to me that this was a life lesson nugget that should be shared far and wide.

As far and as wide as possible.

I recently got the honor of reviewing Shay Banks e-book, ‘Before You Marry ’ which you can get free from her website.

It is a manual for women to work through prior to marriage.

It isn’t about the ceremony or the party, it is about the values and discussions around those values that need to take place between the couple before the ceremony and the party.

And which rarely do.

It is a great little book, easy to read, told in Shay’s own unique, southern lovin’ style.

I thought it was hugely valuable.

I was able to add a little bit based on my own experience and what I wished I’d anticipated before getting married.

But what blew me away was Shay’s checklist for women.

It’s a list of fifteen things a woman should do before she even contemplates settling down.

Things she should be thinking of before she even leaves high school, IMO.

Shay has on this list things like:

  • Live alone
  • Buy yourself something expensive

No matter what your age or situation, you will read this list.

Mentally tallying how many of them you can check off.

EVERY teenage girl should be exposed to this list and be encouraged to follow it.

If they did, their confidence, networks, earning power and independence would soar.

All their relationships would be happier.

And fewer relationships would be abusive.

There are three pre-conditions for abuse.

Three dependencies that put one or other of the couple in a one-down position.

And if all three are present, a seriously abusive situation is likely.

I learned about this triad from a police officer serving on the Domestic Violence unit when I worked in couple counseling administration.

But all of us can learn from it even if we are in a relationship that is fairly equitable.

It applies to couple relationships, friendships, even work situations.

And knowing about it can improve the quality of all of them.

The Three Keys to Unlock Abuse and Enable Happy Relationships:

  • Emotional independence: having a support network of friends and others, separate from your partner, who will help you, listen to you, value you.
  • Self-esteem: believing in yourself and your ability to live happily and successfully independent of others.

Consider the above list and a negative situation where you felt trapped.

Can you see that two or more of the above factors were missing?

You can walk into a situation that feels positive and then find yourself slipping into a situation that is threatening or less than ideal. If the above three elements are missing in your life, your ability to walk away is severely restricted.

Your options are limited.

These situations aren’t caused by accident.

In the event of abuse, the abuser will seek out, unconsciously usually, people who lack confidence, isolate them from their friends and family and remove their independent financial status.

A woman can help that path to abuse or unhappiness open up by not getting educated, limiting her life experience, focusing solely on her man and beating herself up before he even lays a hand on her.

And it is important to remember that many relationships don’t turn abusive until the woman gets pregnant.

Limiting her financial options.

But the power and control issues present in every relationship rest on the direction in which these three keys turn.

We need to be vigilant both before we enter a relationship and during the length of it.

Even if we led vibrant, adventurous lives as young women, we can become burdened by age, ill-health, exhaustion and the demands of little ones.

We can lose our selves and our way at any time.

All these put us, and our relationships, at risk.

It makes sense that all of us do everything we can to protect ourselves in these three areas so that we can avoid unhappy relationships and escape those that have gone bad.

And that’s why Shay’s list is so great. It gives us all concrete, realizable things to do to improve the quality of our lives’ at any time.

Whether we are single, a fiancée, a married woman with children.

And especially if we are a young woman.

Or the mother of one.

Did you live a big life when you were single? Has it made a difference to the type of relationships you seek out? And if you have children, have things changed? Let me know in the comments?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Galit Breen
May 20, 2011 at 4:13 am

Alison, this post gives me chills. It’s *that* important. Valuable. For me, yes. But as a former teacher, a friend and as a Mother. Wow. Thanks for these tips. Truly.
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Alison Golden May 20, 2011 at 6:45 am

Thank you, Galit. I know you will go out into the world with your big heart and spread the word. 🙂


May 20, 2011 at 5:56 am

Omg! Even though I *know* I wrote the manual, I totally didn’t think of how it prevents abusive relationships. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that! But ya know, it’s so true. I tell my students & clients every day, knowledge is power. As much as that is a cliche, it’s the effen truth! The more you know, the less you have to depend on others. It’s SO imperative for our young girls (whether they’re our own daughters or not) see us as strong, capable, and loved/lovable.

Thank you for mentioning my manual! And most of all, thank you for sharing this post! It’s something EVERY woman, young & not-so young, should read!

Luv ya!


Alison Golden May 20, 2011 at 6:48 am

Yes, it is a cliche but you’re right it is the truth. And most of us have no knowledge when it comes to relationships. We rely on our hormones and what we’ve learned from Disney movies. And that isn’t where it’s at. I hope your manual does swell. It deserves to!


Green Bean
May 20, 2011 at 10:39 am

Great list of things every woman should do. I did do all of those things and felt like it gave me the self confidence to have a healthy relationship. Thank you for sharing!
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Alison Golden May 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hey, GB! Yup, I did a lot of them too and while there have been times since when, for periods, I got overwhelmed by life and a bit down, I feel having done those things provided me with a solid base from which to simply tweak things a little to get back into balance and a position of strength.


Joyce Lansky May 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Great post. My husband and I are celebrating twenty-five years of marriage on Wednesday, so I guess ours works.
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Alison Golden May 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Congratulations, Joyce!


Lisa Liguori
June 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Guess I should buy this ebook now, for my daughter, later (lots later, she is 11!)
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Alison Golden June 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

It’ s free, Lisa. And yes, I would get it and review the list with her. The discussion will probably get her thinking in that vein and she can, sparking ideas, and start dreaming of all the things she would like to do. Independent of a man. 😉


Mika Castro December 13, 2011 at 3:30 am

Those are really great and 1005 effective. It is really important to deal with this kind of issues especially on youth sake. There are a lot of situations happening nowadays and i like this as a review for them.
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