If you ask anyone who has been able to sustain a healthy relationship for thirty years or more how they’ve done it, they’ll almost always give you the same answers. They’ll tell you that the minor things that most people take for granted are what make all of the difference in whether or not a relationship lasts and is healthy and meaningful. These are things like: small acts of service, open communication, good listening and teamwork in resolving conflicts.
While many of these things might seem like common sense, they are not commonly practiced because they seem minor in comparison to things like faithfulness, financial responsibility, common values and honesty. This article will share how these seemingly minor details can make a major difference in the endeavor to build healthier relationships…
First, a Look at the Big Picture
The reason why many people don’t take initiative to form habits which will promote personal growth and help them with building relationships is that they don’t look at the bigger picture. Without looking at the bigger picture it’s impossible to understand the impact of subtle bad habits or the benefit of small good habits. For example, imagine what your marriage or partnership might be like in ten years if you made it a habit to get up ten minutes earlier than your partner and make them coffee three or four times a week.
What if you made a habit of sitting down for only fifteen minutes a day to talk to them? Or what if you made it a habit to meet with each one of your close friends for lunch at least once a month without fail? Sit down and see if you can come up with a half a dozen other minor things which you can start doing today to improve your relationships. Ask yourself where these things will take your relationships in one year, or five years, or ten.
Sure, this might be a long time in a future. But once the time has passed you’ll either be thankful that you put the minor efforts in or regretful that you did not. As you probably know, regret is one of the most painful and costly things which anyone has to live with. So once you come up with your list of small habits, it’s time to put a plan into action…
Just A Few Minor Adjustments
Now that you have a few minor habits to start building, it’s time to make a few minor adjustments and fit them into your life. Here is a simple process for making these little things a habit in your relationships:
First, we’ll assume that the following list represents your commitments:
- Email one friend and ask how they are.
- Respond to one email from a friend and tell them how you are.
- Tell your partner or child something that you like about them.
- Make at least a 30 minute phone call to a member of your immediate family
- Write a handwritten letter (not an email) to a relative or friend who lives far away
- Have a date night with your partner and keep it no matter what
- Spend a full day with your partner and one “date night” with each of your children
- Initiate a conversation with at least one stranger, ask their name and listen to them instead of talking
Using these simple guidelines, create a plan and evaluate yourself on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. For example, every morning ask yourself:
- “Who am I emailing today?”
- “Whose email am I responding to today?”
- “What do I like about my partner/child?”
When you come up with your answers write them down on an index card and carry them in your back pocket. At the end of the day, evaluate yourself by taking out the card and asking:
- “Who did I email today?”
- “Whose email did I respond to today?”
- “Did I tell my partner/child what I liked/loved about them?”
Do the same thing with your weekly goals at the beginning and the end of each week and the same thing with your monthly goals that the beginning and the end of each month. Even if you miss your commitments a few times, they will eventually become habits if you are persistent.
Chances are that you and your loved ones will be very thankful in the weeks, months and years to come.
What have you done today to improve your relationships?
John and Linda Ballis
For more helpful tips on balancing your life and further articles on building good relationships revisit this blog regularly, http://wheeloflifeblog.com or go to our website http://wheeloflifebook.com and purchase our book “The Wheel of Life’s 8 Keys to Success”