Love. It is the base of all relationships and it can, single-handedly, give you the strength to keep trying to make a relationship go. It gives you the desire to forgive and move forward. It gives you the passion to keep working and connecting to your mate or close friends, even those pesky little, stress-inducing, two-legged things we call our children. Love. It is a powerful thing. Many times it is abused and taken for granted. Other times it's assumed that you don't have to work at it. And sure, love will probably always be there, at the core, but in order to make it blossom and grow it takes a few other things as well.
Love can keep you together, but don't you want more than that? Don't you want deeper, long-lasting relationships? Closer bonds, strong friendships and the secure feelings of forever... Then read on. Here are a few helpful tips to keep those relationships moving forward....
Make Eye Contact. This simple act lets your partner, children or friend really know that you are listening. It speaks of honesty and vulnerability. The eyes are said to be the window to the soul, let your partner know they are welcome there. That you are genuinely, sincerely involved in this relationship.
Think Before You Speak. Is what you're about to say going to move the relationship forward or will it be hurtful or damaging? Once the words have been released, they cannot be taken back. You can apologize all day long and be completely sincere about it, but you cannot make your words un-heard. Speak words of love and of encouragement. If you must reprimand, or have a difficult conversation be sure you are at a place where you can talk without emotions taking over. It could be as simple as a few seconds of breathing before you begin or answer; Or you may have to reconvene at another time to get your thoughts in order. Try never to argue out of passion, and never, never say things that you know will damage your partner. You may win the battle, but you may also have struck a huge blow in your future together. (Same applies to your children! They may always love you, but they don't have to like you or they may feel a need to seek protection from you be it through verbal distance or re-location.)
Listen Attentively. We all like to know that we are being heard. One of the nicest feelings besides that warm, squishy love feeling is to know that we have been heard and understood. Give those people that are important to you that feeling of value. Put down the cell phone games, or let the e-mail wait for a few minutes. Facebook will be there later, I promise. Ignore the television, the phone, the kids, the dishes... Give that person your undivided attention. I know you are busy. But these are the relationships that deserve your time. They will give you the best ROI. Value them.
Bring God into the conversation. Be sure that He knows He is welcome in your relationships. I have heard that the best relationships are compared to that of a tripod. Three legs. Two legs alone will not give you balance or security. But add that third leg and everything evens out. Pray together, seek Him together and He will give you balance and security.
REALLY get to know your partner/child. Share details. Ask about their likes and dislikes. Who are their friends and what drew them as friends? What do they like to do? People change all the time. Our children, especially. Always be in a state of getting to know them all over again. It creates an unforgettable bond. And with your mate, it gives you insight to the section of their lives that happened perhaps before you became a part of it and how you can continue to grow together.
Verbally communicate your wants and desires and find out theirs. Open communication is SO important!! With out this, it's just a guessing game. And when left to our own imaginations, we ALWAYS imagine the worst. Put your thoughts and feelings into words. Say how you feel. Ask for what you want. I know. I hear you saying, "But if he loves me, he should know!" I wish that was the case. But it's not. People cannot read your mind. And we also struggle with remembering details.
I understand. This can be uncomfortable. But it can also bring you so much closer all while removing doubts and encouraging feedback. (This goes hand in hand with the above Listen Attentively!)
But my favorite reason to verbally communicate is that it builds trust. The walls come down the more you talk together. Share with each other. Listen to each other. You should reach the point that there is nothing that you can't talk about. There is that sense of security that allows you to feel safe in good times and in bad. The good times make it easy to share but when those tough conversations have to come up, its good to have that trust there to know that your partner will still be around when you get to the other side of the problem.
And, of course, verbally communicating also includes:
Saying those three little words: I Love You. Say it. Don't ever let anyone doubt that you love them! Say it and mean it! (The opposite is true, DON'T say it if you don't mean it! Ouch.) We never know what tomorrow may bring so never go to sleep at night without letting those you love know how much they mean to you! I never want my children to ever question my love for them. I try and do all the things to show them, but I feel better just putting it out there. I hope the people closest to me know how much I value them and rarely waste an opportunity to sneak the actual words in every once in a while. I tend to be an over-lover! I'm all about the saying it and expressing it and hugging....
Physical Contact. Touching, hugging, holding hands, a quick pat as you pass by... These are the non-verbal cues that we can give to show our love. I don't care how old you are, touching is good and necessary for people to stay close. (Literally and emotionally! lol)
Forgiveness. I can't say enough about this simple little word with its not so simple expectations. We are all going to make mistakes. We all tend to hurt one another. Forgiveness is the salve for the wound. Forgiveness doesn't fix everything but it allows for the healing to begin. Sometimes you have to begin healing alone, and other times you have to heal together but healing will never happen if resentment, anger and pain stand in the way. Forgive and allow the rest to take care of itself. Forgiveness is a choice. Staying together is a choice. Love, not so much. You can't control who you love and who you do not love. But you can decide how you are going to act on it and you can decide if love is only going to keep you together or if you will enjoy the journey to the fullest.
What's on your mind??
Do you have an additional tip to add? How do these things effect your relationships? Please leave a comment below!