Relationships are complicated.
No matter how casual or shallow, whether established by choice or forced by circumstance, relationships can be complicated.
What make relationships complicated are the gaps between expectations and reality, the differences in understanding and perspective, motivation and objectives, desires and personal circumstances.
Everyone has an agenda, be it known, acknowledged and admitted; vague, fuzzy, and unexpressed; and/or, concealed and subversive.
Relationships require dedicated effort. Like a living organism, relationships are a constantly evolving exchange of information, give and take, compromise, adjustment and changing needs.
Also, like a living organism, relationships need to be nurtured, sustained, maintained and provided with the fodder to ensure they strengthen and grow.
Otherwise they stagnate and die. And sometimes, the death of a relationship is not pretty or an easy, involving intense emotions including pain, sorrow, anger, disappointment and more.
Relationships are hard work.
There are two things integral to a healthy relationship and both require focus and mindfulness, a certain level of attention, effort and awareness.
Relationship requires an investment of effort. Fundamentally the creation, maintenance, and/or improvement of a relationship takes work. There needs be an understanding of, and interest in, the preferences, needs boundaries and background of the individual.
It means regular contact, demonstration of commitment, consideration, support, attention, kindness, succour- certain fulfillment of whatever the parties of the relationship require.
Relationship requires communication.
The other basic requisite for fulfilling and mutually satisfying relationship is communication, consisting of regular honest exchange, mindful speaking and actively listening.
The quality of a relationship is related to time, effort and caring.
The quality of a relationship is directly related to how much time and effort has been lavished on it. And how much one cares about the relationship and the individuals involved.
Husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, parents and children all have formally established bonds of kinship and family. But that does not automatically translate into good relationships.
Just as the biological fact of having produced a child does not automatically make you a competent parent, blood ties do not automatically mean strong or healthy relationships.
Family relationships are often some of the most difficult because the relationships, and family members tend to be taken for granted. Expectations are that the ties of kin are so strong they need no nurturing, care or effort.
Unfortunately, our loved ones may sometimes be the subjects of neglect, receiving the “short end of the stick” because we have put all our focus and effort on others and have nothing left to give when we get home. While this may be acceptable for short periods of time when our resources are stretched, it should not become the status quo.
And if these connections of family aren’t automatically strong and/or healthy, what does that mean for the more “casual” or superficial relationship?
All relationships require work.
In these days of instant gratification – information at the click of a mouse, action at the push of a button, access at the tap of a key, it’s important to be reminded that there are still things, essential things, in life that require effort and focus.
Relationships are one of these things.
And as with most achievements in life, the reward is directly related to the effort you make. In other words, you get out of things what you put into them – the quality of your relationship(s) correspond(s) to the investment made.
We don’t say people are good at relationships; however our level of esteem for individuals can be directly linked to how hard they’ve worked on your relationship, how much effort they have invested and how well they have communicated.
We do appreciate someone who understands or “gets” us; someone who is there for us. A wonderful compliment is to be known as someone who is on the same wavelength.
Two things to remember:
1. It’s important not to take relationships for granted.
They are like living things and need care and effort to remain healthy, grow and survive the inevitable ups and downs. A key part of the care and effort in relationships relates to communication.
2. Talk often; listen even more often.
Mean what you say – especially how much the relationship, and that person, mean to you.
It’s worth the effort.