I love starting a New Year. New possibilities. New Goals. It feels like a fresh start to do things better. We make resolutions for health, jobs, and so many other things. Many times, we miss out on what is most important… relationships.
Relationships have such a big impact on our every day lives. We are all made to want and need them. We desire to connect with one another, to love, and be loved, every single day. There are many things I learned about myself in this past year with relationships. This learning helping me create goals, practical ways I can better my friendships, and even improve my marriage in The New Year.
1. Catch-up Calls.
Most people have an inner circle of a few close friends, but that doesn’t mean those are the only relationships you care about. I have some great friends I just don’t see or talk to a lot. I want to make more effort to have “catch up” calls with them. Whether, it’s once a month or once a quarter. I need to still nurture those relationships. Some are long distance also, and I really want them to continue to grow. Taking that extra effort is important for me to do.
2. Saying “NO” to 1-way relationships.
This may be friendships, this may even be family. I have some relatives that make zero effort toward our relationship. It’s hurtful. At the same time, I have spent a very, very, long time trying to create relationships that were 2 way, yet I am still the only one making effort. I am not going to wear myself thin doing that any more. It messes with my mood, makes me resentful, and angry. Those are not qualities I want to be associated with. However, I will still always welcome them with love if they make any effort with me or my family.
In regards to friendships, years ago I had a “good” friend who was a “TAKER” in every way for years. She would never initiate hanging out, or check on me. Everything in the relationship was about her….how she was, what upset her, or what hardships she was dealing with. I continued to make effort for years, until I ultimately realized I couldn’t change her. I needed to distance myself. Once I stopped making effort, I never heard from her again.
These relationships are draining in every way. I realize there are stages of life where one person is more available than the other. There are stages where one friend may need more attention. You may switch roles as “giver” and “taker.” However, you shouldn’t allow yourself to give energy and time to relationships that are never mutually beneficial.
3. Being Truly Vulnerable.
I will be the first to admit…I completely understand the importance of real honesty and vulnerability in every relationship. Real connection cannot happen without it. However, when I look at myself from this year, I discovered something. I need to push myself to be more open and honest with my really close friends and family about both the good and the bad in my life.
You can rejoice with a stranger. The true test, and where hearts are connected, is sharing hard times. When things aren’t perfect, and you share the truth with another person, the truth of what hurt, pain, or disappointment looks like…It demonstrates trust. You are allowing them into your life, seeing the “truth”, the “real” of every aspect of your life. No one can bypass having hard days, it’s just part of this life. There are days when we feel like failures as a parent, at our job, or in our marriage.
It can be hard for me to be completely honest. It is, however, beneficial in those relationships I want to really grow. God has called us to carry each others burdens, and encourage each other through the hard stuff. However, I find I keep my biggest burdens to myself sometimes. I share enough to feel like I am connecting with another person, but not everything I am truly going through. I usually don’t allow someone to really walk with me through the hard times. This is something I have really started to be intentional about, and will continue in The New Year.
I am a big fan of counseling. I truly believe every person can benefit from talking to someone about their past, their present, and their future. Even when things are good, there is something really powerful about understanding the causes for things I do in relationships, and respond to life in general. I am the first to say…I had a pretty amazing childhood, but there were a variety of hardships I encountered in other relationships. It was beneficial to talk through in a professional setting. Here, I was able to discover various tendencies and traits of mine. I’m learning to challenge myself to change things I didn’t want to let rule my life anymore.
There are many things we don’t notice we do in relationships. We notice them when the right questions are asked and help us make connections. I am not currently in counseling, but would love to make this a priority in The New Year. It has helped in the past so much, and this is definitely a goal for me.
Being Intentional is literally the most powerful thing you can do to better your relationships. It makes all the difference in your marriage, and every friendship you have. Sometimes, you can get comfortable in your relationships and feel like a person will always be there, and all effort goes out the door. I’m focusing on being intentional by scheduling regular outings with my close group of friends, so our relationships can continue to grow and deepen.
This is true for my marriage also. Intentional dates, intentional encouragement…these are transformative things in relationships. This applies across the board. There are a few friends I talk to every week. This isn’t because I’m not crazy busy like everyone else, but I care about those relationships enough to make 5 min of my day or week to say hello, and check in on how they are doing.
I pray and hope these simple 5 tips will really encourage you to evaluate the relationships you have, making effort to better them in the New Year! It is one of the best resolutions you can make.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.