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May 16, 2013

Want Great Relationships? Nurture Them From the Start

IStock_000014629447XSmallAs human beings, we all crave love and belonging. Deep down we want to feel loved, be treated well and we want someone to think we totally rock.  We want to feel as if we matter. Few things fulfill this need more than beginnings: new friendships, new romances and new births. In the beginning, we’re often excited, enthralled and filled with love and adoration for our newfound connections. In fact, these times feel so good, we often term them “the honeymoon period.” During the honeymoon period we can mostly see only the good in the other person. For this moment in time, the other person truly does “rock” in our eyes. 

During this time period…

Unfortunately though, as time goes on, the honeymoon period comes to an end and real life settles in. As time passes, stresses increase, relationships hit bumps, arguments begin to surface and, if we’re not careful, people begin to grow apart.  Cherishing can turn to complaint, love can turn to frustration and connection can turn into what feels like an eternal distance. That original sense of love and connection becomes lost in the abyss. The connection gets lost, not because we’re not meant to be together (although that may be the case for some), but because we forgot to nourish what we had.

Just as a car needs oil to run, relationships need cherishing to stay strong. 

Instead of nurturing them, though, too many of us forget about them at best and at worst start to rust them out. We stop giving our spouses compliments or randomly telling our children what precious human beings they are. We start to pick at the things we don’t like. We begin to complain about what we’re not getting, what others aren’t doing or how the other person is wrong. Our voices become a little harder, our touches become less tender and our kindness starts to fade. Over time, too many of us learn to let go of the desire for love and cherishing and instead would be willing to settle for having someone who at least doesn’t think or act as though we suck. Wow, is that lowering the bar.

The bottom line is we all need, want and crave being loved and feeling connected. We all want to feel that we matter, we’re special and we ROCK. The only way we can have that sense--and keep it--is to nurture our relationships. Nurturing our relationships requires a healthy balance of cherishing and accountability within ourselves and with those around us. When we fall too heavy on one and practically ignore the other, we will either rot out our relationships or ourselves. 

Cherishing requires a gentle spirit of acceptance, appreciation and admiration. Our relationships will benefit when we refocus our lens periodically on the positive qualities and behaviors in those around us, rather than using a microscope as a lens to hone in on the negative behaviors. Our relationships will benefit when we can learn to cherish our loved ones while also compassionately holding them accountable when necessary. We do not need to be cold, harsh or intense in order to hold others accountable and, in fact, doing so does more harm than good. Instead our relationships will grow and heal when we leave the harshness out of them, bring more tenderness into them and practice compassionate accountability throughout those relationships.

Keep your eye on your relationships and remember to oil them frequently or the engine will seize. 

Challenge: Over the next month, deliberately work to nurture your relationships. Be loving, tender and appreciative often. Practice compassionate accountability when necessary.


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Thanks for the inspiration, Lisa. I love reading info like this.

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