Wednesday, August 5, 2015

4 Things That Nurture Relationships
As a rule, I try not to be maudlin, and I prefer a sense of humor to sentimentality. But as we spend our summer visiting colleges and contemplating the future, it's hard not to ignore the fact that summers as we've always known them are dwindling.

In the midst of raising a family, it's easy to lose sight of how quickly everything flies by, and how important it is to nurture all relationships, so that as they grow and change (as relationships do), they evolve into something even better than the the most nostalgic memory.

These four things are certainly not exhaustive, but they're four things I've been thinking about with respect to nurturing relationships and remembering that the thing we happen to be doing at the moment isn't necessarily the most important thing.

1. Never turn down a hug. I'm good at remembering this where my daughter and my parents are concerned, but I'm embarrassed to admit I give my husband short shrift here. In both of the first two cases, hugs are in short supply, so I grab them when I can. But, absorbed in the practical aspects of life, my husband and I sometimes fly by one another. It's important to take that moment whenever it presents itself.

Photo: Melodi2 via Morguefile
2. Don't treat a personal phone call like something to be checked off a list. If I go more than a day or so without talking to my parents, I make a mental note to contact them. Sometimes, though, I sandwich a phone call in between other things, and I end up hanging up the phone feeling annoyed with myself for not relishing the call. Sure, I'm glad I talked to them, even if it was quick, but the best conversations are the ones I have when I'm not multitasking.

3. Listen. This one's easy enough in theory, but as with #2, when I'm in a hurry, it sometimes falls by the wayside. Add to that cell phone reception and my fading middle-aged memory, and I fall prey to half-listening and interrupting so I don't forget what I wanted to say. Not only are those habits rude, but they defeat the purpose. When I'm not fully engaged in both speaking and listening, it's much more likely that I'll forget the conversation shortly after having it. More importantly, not listening shows disrespect and creates frustration and hurt feelings. Feeling listened to, on the other hand, is a wonderful feeling.

4. Practice patience. Racing through a to-do list is one thing; racing through a relationship is something else entirely. Some days, other people just don't move as quickly as we want them to, whether it's the stranger in front of us in traffic or a family member whose pace is slower than our own. While the first relationship is disposable, the latter ones aren't. A moment of patience sends a message of consideration and is an investment in the relationship.

I'm sure there are many more of these. What would you add?

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