Want A Healthy Relationship? Here's A Class You Can Take

By Crystal A. Proxmire

Whatever the relationship, be it with a partner, family member, children, friends or co-workers, there is always more that can be done to improve it. That's why Affirmations is offering a Relationship Skills Class for those who want to learn what it takes to get the relationships they want.

The seven session series runs Feb. 13 - March 27, on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at a cost of $35 for the entire program. Leah Taraskiewicz of HAVEN and Carmen E. Wargel, chair of Macomb Community Domestic Violence Council, facilitate it. Both organizations are tasked with reducing intimate partner violence and helping people in relationships get along better.

"The best way to end intimate partner violence is to create loving and equitable relationships; and everyone deserves to have relationships like that in their lives. These classes are meant to offer skills and creative strategies to support the creation of those types of relationships. Prevention efforts are how we begin to create a safer, more equitable world; these classes are one way that we're trying to do this," Taraskiewicz said.

"The class is very intentional about providing myriad ways for folks with different learning styles to engage the material such as self-reflection, dialogue, group activities, body-based practices, as well as lecture. I will also say as a facilitator that my style is to be responsive to the needs of the group and that the format of the class will be flexible to the particular needs of individuals and the group as a whole. My hope is that the class will be fun and serious as it will be challenging and rewarding for all of those who participate."

This is the first time the Relationship Skills Class has been offered in Michigan, though the curriculum has been in practice for ten years in Seattle, where the Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse created it.

The class is for anyone, regardless of relationship situation. While the focus is on LGBT people and their relationship needs, allies and family members are welcome as well.

"The creators of the class were very intentional about creating an instructional model that accesses multiple learning modes, so the class is quite varied and interesting. We plan to have a lot of fun while building seriously important skills," Wargel said.

Lydia Hanson, Director of Health and Wellness at Affirmations, hopes that the class will be able to run three times through the year. She expects about 18 people per class, and is looking forward to a diverse mix of participants.

"The class is poly-inclusive and BDSM-inclusive, and is really for anyone who thinks about how they relate to other people," Hansen said.

"Making healthy relationships makes the unhealthy ones stand out more," Hanson said. "Sometimes people don't realize they are in unhealthy relationships. They may think that because their partner is the same gender as them that it isn't abuse."

The Relationship Skills Class focuses on positive relationship development, with topics like exploring personal and cultural relationship values, arguments and making agreements, accountability and building community connections.

For more information or to register, go to http://www.goaffirmations.org/events/event_details.asp?id=383592.


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