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Above all, you consider your family to be one of your greatest blessings. Yet, even the seemingly perfect families have times when harmony at home is discordant. Whether you want to bring your family back together, or keep it as strong as possible, here are 13 ways you can strengthen your family ties.
1. Find reasons to laugh together.
Laughing naturally breaks down walls of tension and builds up the connection you feel with your loved ones. Do something funny together, like having a fashion show at the thrift store where other family members pick out your clothes to wear. Or put down the technology and have a classic Mad Libs competition to see who can come up with the funniest Mad Lib. Whatever you do, make sure it's something everyone in your family can laugh at.
2. Go on more adventures together.
Sometimes all your family needs in order to be stronger is a change of pace. Get on a plane and go somewhere new! Exploring the world is a renewing and fulfilling experience, and when you do it with your family, you will create memories that are worth more than the world.
3. Take a moment to talk about things.
Often what tears families apart is a lack of understanding, usually due to a lack of communication. Don't avoid difficult subjects, but choose the appropriate times to talk about them such as after a long day or when you have guests over.
4. Take a moment to listen.
You may feel the need, especially as a parent or an older sibling, to insert your two cents on a topic, but too often that "two cents" becomes a two hour lecture. Even if you think you know what they need, realize that sometimes what they really need is for you to just listen. You'll find your relationship with that family member strengthen almost immediately when you start to see where they are coming from.
5. When you're home, be home.
Don't let other distractions keep you from enjoying time with your family. They need to know that you care about them enough to put work, your phone and your friends aside for them.
6. Eat dinner together.
As often as you can, have time together as a family around the dinner table - no TV, no phones, no work, just each other. This is a great opportunity to not only communicate more, but to laugh and de-stress so that you can enjoy more time together even after dinner.
7. Visit them more often.
This may seem like common sense, but many families visit each other much less than they should, especially when living far distances away. It's not as difficult as you think to find less-expensive flights for when family members live cross-country (try airlines like AeroMexico). If nothing else, set up Skype dates to talk and see each other's faces.
We want so badly to be right that sometimes it damages the people who matter the most to us. Too many families are broken up because they let an argument get in the way of loving their family members. It's not bad to voice your opinion, it's actually something you should encourage in your family, but don't forget to have an open mind about your family's opinions as well. They matter more.
9. Forgive more than you hold grudges.
Forgiving is easy to say but hard to do. Remember to see things from the other person's perspective. In most cases, they don't mean to hurt you. Even when they hurt you on purpose, remember that they are still your family and maybe what they need in order to change your love and forgiveness (even when they don't deserve it).
10. Don't leave anyone out.
If someone in your family has different interests, a different sense of humor or a different outlook on life, do everything you can to let them know that you love them and are grateful that they're in your family. This also means that you should absolutely not pick favorites because someone will always feel left out. You can connect with different family members on different topics, just be sure you work towards having equally strong connections with everyone in your family.
11. Show affection often.
People feel affection in different ways. Some feel love through acts of service or a strong hug or vocalized appreciation for something they've done. Find out how each member of your family feels love, and then show them the kind of affection that they need.
12. Make your family your No. 1 priority.
How much do you want to make your family relationships as strong as they can be? If this is what you want more than anything, then it needs to be your top priority. This doesn't mean you neglect work or other responsibilities, but it does mean showing that you put your family first.
12. Just love them.
If you do nothing else, love your family. "Love is selfless" is not just a cliché, it means doing more for them than you would for yourself. In the process, you find yourself loving your family more than you could have imagined. It's something that will make your life more fulfilling.