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Three Ways to Make Your Relationships Easier
by Michelle Graham
Humans are relational beings, so the closer we are to the people we love, the better we tend to feel about life. And then we throw in jobs, busy weekends, pets, kids, extended family, and hobbies, and suddenly all that meaning feels just out of reach. Whatever happened to the easy relationships of elementary school, where fights were solved during recess and everyone was reconciled at the end of the day?
It would be wonderful if life had a magical recipe for success. Just do A, B, and C, and your friends will love you, your family will stay wonderful, and everything in life will be great. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way 100% of the time. Yet life does seem the most meaningful when it’s shared with friends and family. The trick is to keep these relationships healthy – in the world of social media and depleted social skills, this trick is becoming a lost art.
Being with people isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot of talk circulating about the ways extroverts and introverts interact with people, but this goes far beyond even that. Even the people we love sometimes get on our nerves. Family members are fantastic, but there are only so many group road trips you can take before someone starts pulling their hair out. Why do relationships get so difficult so quickly? The short answer: We let them. Maybe it’s because we’re tired, or selfish, or it was just meant to happen that way. There is really no way to know for certain. But a relationship, like a flower, needs to be nourished in order to bloom.
The people we are the closest to are also the ones that have the greatest ability to hurt us. In a world where hurt happens far too often, it’s important to stick together. If something goes wrong, only characters in a sitcom should let forgiveness wait until the last possible moment. On TV it’s funny, but in real life keeping forgiveness out of relationships makes things harder (Van Tongeren 2014).
When the going gets rough and we’re low on sleep, stressed from work, and worried about paying the bills, relationships often fall by the wayside. Instead of letting things slip from your grasp, hold on to your people even tighter during those times of topsy-turvy life. The ones who know you best are the ones who will be able to help you stand up again if you fall.
Sometimes all it takes to save a failing relationship is a renewed sense of urgency. Not all relationships are healthy, but the ones that are deserve extra time and attention. The great part is, you don’t necessarily have to spend an hour on it every day. However, the more quality time you share, the closer you’ll tend to feel. If you’ve found that some relationships are harder to keep up than others, try to think of a new way to connect with one another.
Here are three ways the relationships in your life can get easier in just a few minutes every day:
1- Laugh Together
Laughter heals all sorts of illness. You don’t have to research it in clinical trials to know that people who laugh more are happier, and the people who laugh together are happier together. It’s like having an inside joke – a moment between you and one or more other people that makes you laugh even years after the fact. There’s nothing better than laughing with friends until you can’t stand up straight. Besides, even the Bible says that being relaxed – one of the side effects of laughter – will help you live longer (Prov. 14:30). When it’s been a while since you last laughed with someone, try diving into the past and remember something funny together. Awkward get-togethers suddenly become a moment to share a memory when laughter is involved. If your friends are happy about something, join in and celebrate with them. Few things can match a group of friends all rejoicing over the triumph of one of their members (Romans 12:15).
2. Share Thoughts
The only way to develop a deep friendship is to communicate. Nowadays this can mean anything from texting to writing comments on online photo albums, but the best kind of communication is the kind that happens face-to-face. Life is busy, but it should never be too busy to talk to the people who are close to you. Being around good company is also a great way to become a better person yourself. Iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17), so if you have a friend or family member who is very iron-like, it’s time to keep them around! While sharing secrets is one way to grow closer to the people around you, another easy way is to ask for advice. It can be humbling and uncomfortable at first, but once you ask for help, you’d be surprised how much people want to help. When you get advice from friends, your whole life could become more successful (Prov. 15:22).
If you’re not laughing together or talking about deep matters of the heart, you can jump into action. Find out what your friend’s love language is and cater to them. If they love gifts, grab them tiny things from the store or make them a card for their quarter birthday. For those who need quality time, set up something fun to do that’s just you and that person. Keeping up a friendship takes nearly the same amount of work as it does to get a romantic relationship going, so if you feel like you’re dating, you’re probably doing it right! Use your free time to show love to the people around you. God has given everyone talent, and that talent can be used for dozens of positive things (Galatians 5:13). We are free to do as we wish to the people around us, but of course the best choice is to treat everyone with respect. Produce good things from your heart to give to the ones you love, (Luke 6:45) and that goodness will spread all over the world.
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