Do you take your relationships for granted? It's very easy to do. Most of us get wrapped up in our day-to-day work schedules, chores, meal preparations, homework, children's events and let's not forget the all-consuming social media venues we try to keep up with. All these are worthy and necessary duties in our day, but when was the last time you praised your spouse or significant other for the job they did, rather than criticize them for what they didn't do? When was the last time you thanked your child(ren) for being who they are and for making your family what it is today?
Being intentional in our relationships creates stronger ties. In the flurry of our lifestyle we need to pause and take care of one another. How do you show caring behaviours to your spouse or friend? I'll never forget in one of my sessions an exasperated husband stated, "But I just brought her home chocolate!? The wife turned to me and just as exasperated said, "And how many times do I need to tell him that I'm allergic to chocolate?? Be aware of your spouse or friend's needs. Just because you might enjoy something, doesn't mean that they will. They may have opposite needs and that isn't wrong, it's just different. Extend grace to one another for each other's differences.
Intentionally, we can spend time, give a small gift, speak an affirming comment or give a warm embrace. When we do take care of our most precious relationships, we create positive, strengthened couples, families and communities. So often we hear the phrase, "It's now ?me' time? or "I'm taking time for me.? While yes, there are times we must individually pull back and recharge, being intentional about growing strong marriages, families and communities means looking for ways we can help and encourage the other. We become "other? orientated. Intentionally, we focus on others within our sphere of influence. If you are feeling distant from your spouse, plan a special time together rather than complaining about it. If you want to understand your teenager better, then be interested in his/her world - even if the activity doesn't interest you.
And finally, intentionally watch the words that come out of your mouth. Ask yourself, "If I say this will it build up my spouse, partner, child, family member or friend?? The greatest gift we can give one another is the gift of listening, affirming and asking for clarification before giving our opinion. Too often we assume what the other is thinking or wanting to say and cut them off. We react out of fear, or our own anxiety gets in the way, and we begin shouting or name-calling. These are not ways to build up our relationships, nor is it respectful.
In closing, relationships are not to be taken for granted. They are the very fabric of our society. We must intentionally take good care of them. If you are finding your relationships strained in any way, be that at home, at work or at school, it may be time to get some help from a trained relationship expert. Registered Marriage and Family Therapists have had unique relationship training to help your relationships become the best they can be. You can find out more about marriage and family therapists at www.oamft.on.ca.
Helping you intentionally look after your most precious relationships,
Winnie Visser M. Div, RMFT, Registered Marriage and Family Therapistwww.winnievissercounselling.com
Principles for Real Living:
I am responsible for my own attitude
My attitude affects my actions
I can not change others, but I can influence others
My emotions do not control my actions
Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world
Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008