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December 13, 2012

Four keys to better relationships

From a Gloucester reader: None of the relationships in my life are going very well. My husband and I are always on the run with our careers and community responsibilities, my friends and I seem to be growing apart, and my children don’t want to do the family things we used to do together. I feel like everyone is drifting away from me. What can I do?

Dear Reader: Here is some information culled from my reading and my professional experience over the years that ought to help. You can improve the relationships in your life by practicing the following four keys to better relationships:

Value the people in your life as individuals. The best relationships are those in which people are accepted as unique individuals. You, your friends, co-workers and family are constantly changing as a natural result of life experiences. However, you may not, as time goes along, retain similar values and ideas, but if you can still enjoy being in each other’s company while sharing activities — walking, biking, movies, dinner, etc., you can overlook, and perhaps even learn from differences in outlook.

Make relationships a priority. If you want quality relationships, you must devote time and attention to them. That may mean spending an entire evening listening to your teenage daughter complain about her life, or sitting with a friend who is distraught over a family death, or calling friends and family with whom you have been out of touch rather than attending a meeting or going to an event. It may mean helping your out-of-work mate brainstorm possible job prospects instead of climbing into bed with a mystery novel. Sometimes “being there” physically and emotionally for the other person in the relationship has to come first.

Share common interests. Relationships thrive when people spend time together doing things they both enjoy. Even simple, inexpensive activities, like a walk on the beach, can cultivate closeness.

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