One of the greatest sources of joy is the love we give and the love we get. Our relationships with family and friends will either rise or fall depending on the time and quality of the attention we invest.
For example, there’s no comparison between marriages of couples who make regular time to talk each day ‘face to face’ and those who live in a blur of texting.
Friend relationships where the people rarely speak by phone or who don’t FaceTime or Zoom, but connect only through Instagram, WhatsApp, texts or emails, remain superficial and unsatisfying.
The book Ethics of the Fathers says that ‘one sign God is happy with you is when the people in your life are happy with you.’
Those all-important relationships need nurturing!
How are you caring for your spouse, partner, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, co-workers?
The Bible compares people to trees. Why? Because trees produce fruit, but only with the proper amounts of water, sun and nutrients. Your precious relationships need the proper amount and the right kind of care, too.
If you’re feeling isolated, maybe the relationships of special people in your life are “undernourished.” One sign is when the people in your life seem to be keeping their distance.
What might I be doing — or not doing — to push others away?
If your marriage or significant relationship isn’t getting better every day, then it’s probably stagnating or deteriorating.
If your children seem angry, unhappy and non-communicative (….excluding teenagers!), perhaps you need to change something in your parenting style.
Alert: Our mother and father each deserve extra-special thought, too.
Why? The fifth of the 10 Commandments requires that we treat our parents with incredible care.
Parents gave us the ‘Ultimate Gift’ — life itself! They changed untold dozens of your diapers, fed you thousands of meals, wiped your tears away, fed you, housed you, etc. Make sure you look closely at your parental relationships.
Here are a few suggestions:
Listening = Loving. Everyone wants to be listened to…it’s healing. (People will pay upwards of $250 an hour to a therapist just to feel like they’ve been heard.)
How to listen better.
- Be smart — put away your ‘smartphone.’
- Make eye-to-eye contact (nowadays, social-distance-wise, we use FaceTime or video-chats).
- Ask caring questions; try to understand, don’t judge, don’t interrupt.
- Paraphrase back what you heard the other say.
One easy marriage tip: schedule a weekly ‘date night’ with your spouse.
Honor your parents by calling, video-chatting, and, whenever possible, visiting in person.
Friendships need nurturing. Make time for a live or virtual coffee, or, if your friend is nearby, put on your PPE and take a walk together. Think about what you can give to the friendship. Be a giver, not a user.
Young kids want and need time and attention from their parents more than anything else.
Teenagers also want it, but, due to their growing sense of self and need for autonomy, will definitely demand ‘space’ of their own.
Food is one road to a kid’s heart. A homemade meal or treat, or a safe/social-distanced trip to a favorite yogurt store, communicates affection. Knowing about, and buying, something your child needs (within your budget) signals that you care. Going to a nearby park, playing board games — sharing time together — shows love. Outings to places that will allow you to rent jet-skis or paddle-boats, or going star-gazing one evening, or inline skating, biking, hiking — these are all ways to ensure family togetherness.
Often, a tiny tweak in your relationships can create a huge turn for the better.
Which family member or friend do I want more closeness with?
- Call or text that special person — TODAY.
- Send a tiny gift from Amazon.
- Schedule a date with them.
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