My parents have been on my mind this week. If they were still living, they would have celebrated their 74th anniversary March 1. They had the kind of relationship most of us aspire to. Their genuine love and affection for each other were obvious in words and actions. Their relationship was laced with humor and intertwined with faith and trust. I learned a lot from them about relationships and life.
Following are some keys that made their relationship so successful, elements which apply to relationships other than marriage:
Trust and Honesty
Without trust, relationships falter. An important part of trust in a relationship involves the assurance you can share your thoughts and feelings and know they will be kept in confidence, while at the same time being receptive to insights and perspectives that bring balance. Inherent in trust is honesty. A relationship marred by secrets loses openness and inhibits trust. Deception never has a favorable outcome.
Although respect should be an obvious component in a good relationship, sometimes jealousy, competitiveness, and contempt are present. Admiration tinged with jealousy results in criticism and sarcasm. Conversely, true respect exhibits appreciation, empathy, concern, care, and support.
Have you ever dealt with a friend or family member who didn’t observe boundaries? Those who don’t acknowledge and respect boundaries attempt to control, don’t respect privacy, and make demands on your time without regard to how those demands affect you. Even the closest relationships need boundaries to ensure personal time and space.
Often, relationships fail because of the inability to communicate. Effective communication is more than talking. It also involves listening, personal engagement, the exchange of ideas, and discerning emotions behind the words. In addition to day-to-day details, good communication is essential in the areas of affirmation, encouragement, and conflict resolution.
Amid the ups and downs of life, humor is an important stabilizer. Even in the most difficult circumstances, an element of unexpected humor often appears to lighten the seriousness of the situation and bring momentary relief. Humor is not mocking others or engaging in self-deprecation, but rather a shared memory of lighthearted moments, or something as simple as sharing a laugh over a misused or mispronounced word.
When I began dating, my father gave me some wise advice: Find someone who shares the same values you do and whose family is as much like yours as possible. Sometimes, differences make a relationship interesting, but on the other hand, differences can be a great source of conflict and harm. Shared interests provide common ground for discussion and growth.
Faith and Forgiveness
Relationships are fluid, changing with time and circumstances. Our humanness predisposes us to mistakes, offenses, and selfishness. Forgiveness is a key component of the life of faith, modeled by a loving, forgiving God. Those who stubbornly hold on to hurts, are resistant to apologizing, and fail to forgive rob themselves of peace and the joys of healthy relationships.
In times of crisis, faith and forgiveness are the glue that hold relationships together.
The ability to recognize positive elements in a relationship and blessings in times of difficulty fuel forward motion, enhance hope, and place focus on the future.
Be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other. Through the peace that ties you together, do your best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives. Ephesians 4:2-3 GW
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include While You Wait: 7 Simple Truths for Seasons of Waiting (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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