Relationships that Last

When it comes to family and friends, near and far, how do you nurture lasting relationships? What you know about them tells a lot about how close you are to that person. What positive qualities can you list about those you feel are close to you? Is your friend playful, and do you think about each other often?

The only way any of us can know someone well is to spend time with them. Yet, another telling sign is to look at the ways you both communicate with each other. When you share the same values spending time together seems so easy to do. What happens, though, with the way you communicate when your core values are not shared in the relationship? The tension can be considerable when you have not found a middle ground respecting the differences. Friendships and marriages don’t last very long, do they?

According to Alice Boyes PhD, in her article, 50 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships (Psychology Today, posted January 22, 2013), offer a list of qualities most thought of about a spouse, a friend, or co-worker.

  • You are committed to offering communication with love, and genuine listening from the heart.
  • You work at a balanced relationship where the two of you mutually support each other.
  • You genuinely care for the other person.
  • You have an honest, open relationship.
  • You are faithful in the good times and the bad times.
  • You respect one another even when you disagree.
  • Give you both time and opportunity to work through problems together.
  • You have lots of fun together.
  • You simply enjoy just being around each other.
  • You forgive one another.
  • Be truly who you are with each other.

When you read each quality, think about what words you use or don’t use to reflect that quality. Don’t forget about your tone and body language when you communicate. They can make all the difference in the way your friend or spouse responds.

Something else to think about are questions. We humans often spend much more time telling someone what we think, or even how they should think! We can easily find ourselves asking a question in a way that really speaks judgment or criticism. Rather than an open and nonjudgmental dialogue, there becomes no room for respectful disagreement. We definitely don’t have to look very far around us to see the ire, even hatred, permeating our nation over the past four-plus years.

Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics of civil discourse. Wouldn’t that be nice? In the meantime, how about we each start working on our communication skills close to home and community?