Relationships are fragile things; at least in their infancy. It seems that establishing healthy, long-term relationships is more difficult than you might at first believe. Thankfully there are some simple things that you can do to get new relationships off on the right foot, and strengthen older relationships that may be struggling.
Eliminate Personal Expectations
Expectations ruin relationships. The reason for this is because expectations are not, in most cases, mutually agreed upon. When you enter into a new relationship with a set of things you expect to receive from the other person, you are going to be disappointed.
Relationships are the strongest when we seek to serve the other person, rather than seeking to be served. You can control your service, but you cannot control the behavior of the other member of the relationship. So, relationships that are formed as a result of what you expect to get out of them are doomed to run into difficulties because expectations are rarely fulfilled.
Endeavor to Provide Personal Value
Relationships don’t happen by accident and they don’t last by accident. All lasting relationships take work and a personal investment of value. In other words…you get out of a relationship what you put into it. Each and every day, endeavor to bring value to the relationship. Work on value in communication, service, and commitment. Let the other person know by your actions that you are committed to making the relationship work.
By nature, many people are takers and not givers. There is a time for taking, but if your relationship becomes emotionally bankrupt, you will not be able to continue to make withdrawals, and the relationship will crash and burn. Take some time today and invest personally in your friendship, marriage, or family relationships.
Encourage Personal Growth
People change. That is not a new truth. However, it seems that we forget sometimes that if people change, relationships will change as well. If we are not flexible, we will wind up ruining what could be a wonderful thing. We will all go through different phases of life, and as our circumstances and responsibilities change, so too will our availability and behavior.
“You are not the person you used to be.” How often have you heard someone say that? The truth is that none of us are the people we used to be. Life changes people. It is called growth.
Relationships that last through the decades recognize and embrace the change that comes as we grow as individuals. For example, if you were married in your 20’s you should not expect things to be the same in your 50’s. You are now older, more mature, a parent, or even a grandparent. Life has happened, and while you are essentially the same person at your core, you are also more than you were 30 years ago. At this stage some people throw away relationships in an effort to seek ones like they had decades earlier. What a shame. Encourage personal growth and embrace the changes that it brings into your relationship. It will be different, but that doesn’t mean it will be bad.
Ultimately if we are to build lasting relationships we must remain committed, yet flexible. We must give the other person room to grow, and change. We must value the time invested up to this point and find new ways to invest in the future. Lasting relationships don’t exist in neutral. Put yours into drive and enjoy the road. It’s not about the destination.
What about you? Are you in a relationship that is struggling? What do you think is the major cause of the difficulty, and what are you doing about it? Have you been in a long-term relationship that has survived many ups and downs? What did you do when things got tough? I would love for you to leave a comment and let me and the other readers know your thoughts on this topic, as well as your thoughts on the advice I have given here.