Lover, friendship, or family members: all of these connections take effort to maintain and blossom. Without attention, these important relationships will fall apart.
This February, Rat Creek Press contributors took the time to share what they do to keep their relationships going.
My significant other and I work completely different schedules, so we stay connected by sending texts of funny or cute pictures throughout the day. We’ll also surprise each other every now and then with little things. He’ll leave my favourite chocolates on my pillow for me to find when I get home. I’ll send him a random postcard with different things that I love about him or for which I am proud of him written on the back. When we are home together, we make a point of spending quality time together. Sometimes this means a nice night out and other times it means we run errands together just to be close. We’ve been together for almost four years.
Our relationship is built on deep emotional intimacy. So, if I am feeling bored or unhappy or uncomfortable about ANYTHING in the relationship, I talk to my partner. I used to be scared to say anything as I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or sound selfish, but he always takes the time to understand where I am coming from and talk things through with me. He is really caring and receptive to my concerns and needs and our conversations create a deeper intimacy and closer connection.
Put skin in the game.
We don’t need science to tell us what is good for us, especially when it comes to relationships, but it is fun when it affirms what we have always known by adding a detail or two.
Here it is: Science says touching is good for us, particularly skin to skin. (Who knew?)
Touching releases the feel-good chemicals in our brain—endorphins and dopamine—as well as oxytocin, the bonding chemical you can bet was flowing fast the first time we latched onto our mothers. This happiness cocktail helps us feel emotionally connected with the person we are spending skin time with. It even helps us better intuit their emotional states.
Here is my remedy for a healthy long-term relationship (speaking from experience, not just a textbook): put more skin in the game. Touch often. Get rid of pyjamas and king-sized beds and spend more time snuggling skin to skin.
There is no need for the romance to whither away; the older we get, the more we get of both time and skin.
There’s a chemistry about being in love that needs fuel to keep the sparks flying. For me, it includes being able to trust that we have each other’s best interests at heart, knowing that these will keep shifting. To say ‘ouch’ when something hurts and to be allowed to make mistakes without the cost being too high keeps the bond honest and strong. Celebration, play, sharing dreams as well as chores, touching, laughing and counting our blessings all help.
This Valentine’s Day will be the 20th I’ve spent with my wife (and 17 years of marriage this November). Aside from incredible grace, which is always undeserved, I can only pin this success on one clear choice. Nearly every week we’ve been together—and that’s over a thousand weeks!—we’ve gone on a date. Sometimes out, sometimes at home, but almost without exception. Counting extended getaways, I’d guess we’ve spent more money on dating each other than on anything besides our home. The result? I don’t just love my wife, I really like her, too.
Dave Von Bieker
Friendship & Family
Relationships will survive and thrive when team spirit and action are developed and maintained. We all have distinct and unique qualities that make us who we are, and as individuals, we truly love our independence.
It is part of that individuality that relationships are sought after and formed. Deep down, we know we will not go as far by our ourselves as we will in a loving and caring relationship. A fulfilling relationship is filled with love, patience, understanding, and a team spirit where everyone works together to achieve more. Only as team players will any relationship weather the storms that life can bring.
Choose well. They’re your friends. Choose to your personality, inclination, shared interests, and values; not someone else’s ideas of who your friends can and should be. Remember too, not all your friends will mix, as each friend fills different niches in your life. We all have these niches, and keeping friendships means not burdening someone to be all things, at all times.
Spread the cheer by increasing your circle. Lastly, not all friends are forever. Don’t be disappointed. Be glad you had that time as friends. There were, are, and will be friends for you!
I call people from time to time to connect our relationship. Often my friends direct their energies elsewhere, so I call first. I keep deep relationships which ebb and flow and need little contact yet they flourish from the moment of our next meetup. I ask questions and endeavour to listen first. I share openly in turn and trust deeply.
At funerals, I am always struck by the number of stories people are able to recall about a person. The stories form a beautiful woven tapestry which can provide comfort in the darkest of moments.
Those relationships are a living entity unto themselves. I continue to breathe life into them by being present at every opportunity with people I love via email, letters, texting, calling, or just sitting next to a friend having a cup of tea in silence. Some relationships are special and I can pick up where I left off without missing a beat, even though it has been years. Others require more frequent contact. I am blessed to have people in my life who accept the loving as it comes and in return sew the fabric of my soul.
The way we may have been brought up and life circumstances has some people not knowing what makes a healthy relationship. When we don’t understand how healthy relationships work, we can fall into a pattern of having the same poor relationships. Understanding limited beliefs on how we lived our lives prior can have us exploring much about ourselves, especially if we have not been living authentically. Knowing ourselves brings us to attracting the same.
I live with my adult daughter, and while I wouldn’t say we have specific techniques that allow two independent people to share a tiny apartment, we have a certain perspective and attitude that helps keep the relationship strong. A key is our willingness to listen. It’s not always fun to hear how you’ve stepped over the line, but being able to attend and say, “okay, yeah, that’s true” keeps things open. That’s a more secure footing than feeling cornered or that you’re unable to say what you’re feeling. I must admit it’s something I have to keep working on. We’re both strong willed. We want to do things our way. So self-awareness and a willingness to honestly examine our habits is pretty important. At root, we want to keep our relationship intact—through all life’s stages.
Header image: Keeping in contact with friends and family is one way to ensuring that bond remains strong. | Pixabay