We coast along in our relationship with our spouse, our son, our mom — and then something breaks. In an instant, we feel like we're surrounded by glass.
Whether you're mending from relationship heartbreak or misunderstanding, or working on an ounce of relationship problem prevention, here are four ways to sweeten your relationships with loved ones.
See it, say it
Want to pour some sugar on your relationships at home? Seeing and saying things on the home-front works like magic to make relationships feel more secure — and it's easy-peasy. All you have to do when you see something great is say it.
When you see your husband take out the garbage, say, "I appreciate you so much!" (And add a giant hug and kiss!)
When you see your kids doing their homework without being asked, say, "You rock for doing your homework, my friend!"
When you see someone (even a stranger) do something nice like holding the door open to let someone go ahead of them, say, "Wow! That was a super kind thing to do!"
Usually "see it, say it" works best if you say it immediately, but sometimes a note after the fact is more effective.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you see something that concerns you, address it as soon as you can. And, as always, pour on the love and appreciation (even for being willing to hear you out) after sharing your concerns.
Be a strength-finder
Everyone has things they're good at. Sometimes, looking at the very things that annoy us helps us discover those strengths. Is your child always getting lost at stores? Perhaps his strength is curiosity! Does your loved one spend too much money? Maybe your loved one's gift is living in the moment! We all want to feel loved for who we are — even if we have a few areas that could be polished up.
If you can't think of a loved one's strengths off the top of your head, sit down and make a list. Post the list so you can read it often. Observe your loved one daily, and when you see a strength, don't forget to say it! (And round and round the love goes!)
Pencil loved ones into your calendar
"The proof is in the pudding" or "put your money where your mouth is" — we have these sayings to convey that our actions speak louder than words. Along with telling people you love them, write loved ones into your schedule and make time for them. With a spouse, set up an ongoing weekly date night. With your kids, plan play time with them daily. With dear friends and others to whom you want to show love, set up a lunch date, go to a movie or meet at the park so your kids can play. Schedule important events so they'll happen.
I'm not talking about begging here (although a dollop of humility is priceless in any relationship). I'm talking about getting on your knees and praying for your loved one. This is especially important when your feelings are hurt. Maybe harsh words were said to you. Pray to know what to say. Pray for the person whose words hurt you. Maybe you have a child who is making choices that cause you heartache. Pray that you can have peace. Pray that you will know what to do. Whatever the reason — pray. Turn your worries, hurts and thoughts over to God who has all day and night to help you to heal your relationships.
While you're sweetening your relationships with others, don't forget about pouring some goodness onto yourself. Acknowledge your own successes, accept compliments, give yourself a two-hour nap and, when all else fails, pray that you can get through the day.